My name is Kevin Stobb. I’m a Mille Lacs Band member and I currently work for the Band’s DNR department. I’ve worked and lived in the area for pretty much my entire adult life. I recently moved away from the reservation and bought a home thanks to the housing loan program.
My choice to live away from the reservation wasn’t a hard one. The drug epidemic happening as we speak is taking a toll, not just on our young people but on everyone in the community, from children born exposed to drugs, to the children of addicted parents who are being raised in traumatic conditions in their own homes, and even to the grandparents of those children who are forced by common decency to take care of their grandchildren as if they were their parents.
My guess is pretty much every family in every district has firsthand knowledge of what drugs do to those that become addicted to them, whatever their drug of choice is.
I had a brother who got addicted to meth. I watched him go from a healthy adult to a thin, unhealthy addict. I watched as he made more and more bad choices that hurt him and his family. He eventually died from an accident that probably was preventable. A contributing factor according to the autopsy report was meth use. So yes. The drug didn’t kill him outright, but it was a factor.
But I don’t want to make this about me. It’s about everyone that has gone through this. We can’t begin to accept the fact that overdoses are a part of life on this reservation. It’s like regular news these days and it has to stop. We need to act now so we can start getting these drugs off the reservation.
I can’t sit silent anymore. I want to be part of the solution. I don’t want to be an enabler. We have way too many of those right now. It’s time for all those who want change, who talk about change, to step up and show the elected officials we mean business.
This isn’t a call to arms. This isn’t a witch hunt. This isn’t a time to attack others. This is a time for everyone who wants to see this drug epidemic dealt with to come together and find real solutions. We need more than meetings. We need action.
By coming here today, I hope to accomplish a few things. One, I wanted to show those out there that they can have their voices heard by you. There are many out there who think you as a group are unapproachable. Two, I wanted to take a step for myself towards being a part of the solution. Three, I wanted to start a discussion with you about what I personally feel needs to be done. I’m not saying I have all the answers to this epidemic. I’m just saying that I want to be an active part of the solution.
This can be an exciting time for us and for you. You can be the Band Assembly that took a stand against drugs and crime and changed the reservation in a positive way. People would be proud of you and your accomplishments.
I and others have great ideas to share. Right now that’s all they are, ideas. These ideas need guidance from those that have the power to make changes.
In short, we need your help.
This is an edited version of Kevin Stobb’s testimony before Band Assembly on August 31 and is published with his permission. The entire testimony is available on the Legislative Branch Facebook page.