Char-Koosta News

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Initial sobriety camp meeting well received

Gene Sorrell, Gary Neumann holding Jonathon Francisco Montoya, Jason Adams and Gena Sorrell-Montoya were among nearly 100 folks who attended first organizational meeting about the revival of sobriety camp a week prior to the 2015 Arlee Celebration. (Anna Whiting-Sorrell photo) Gene Sorrell, Gary Neumann holding Jonathon Francisco Montoya, Jason Adams and Gena Sorrell-Montoya were among nearly 100 folks who attended first organizational meeting about the revival of sobriety camp a week prior to the 2015 Arlee Celebration. (Anna Whiting-Sorrell photo)

ARLEE — The initial meeting on the revival of a sobriety camp the weekend prior to the 2015 Arlee Celebration was well attended Sunday, despite the cloudy and rainy weather. The gloomy weather’s silver lining was the nearly 100 people in attendance at the celebration grounds. To top that off a rainbow wrapped itself over the meeting, as if Mother Nature was embracing and acknowledging that the first step in making a sobriety camp a precursor to the annual Arlee Celebration was the right step to take in the substance abuse battle on the Flathead Reservation.

“About 100 people were fed and shared ideas that would bring about a Celebration of Sobriety Activity next June 2015,” said Gary Neumann in an email. He has agreed to facilitate the sobriety camp meetings. “Many shared their memories of past Celebration of Sobriety events and the lasting effect they had on themselves and their families and were excited that this was a sort of an awakening of the movement.”

Neumann said Steven Buffalo and Bear Bear Malatare were the cohorts involved in the effort to reinstitute the Celebration of Sobriety Camp. He also acknowledged Gene and Anna Sorrell, Gena Sorrell-Montoya, Patty and Willie Stevens, and Kelly Pierre for their assistance in putting the Sunday gathering together as well as providing personal insights on sobriety.

Bear Bear Malatare and Steven Buffalo, main charges behind jump-starting the sobriety camp, enjoy a light-hearted moment at the sobriety camp revival meeting. (Anna Whiting-Sorrell photo) Bear Bear Malatare and Steven Buffalo, main charges behind jump-starting the sobriety camp, enjoy a light-hearted moment at the sobriety camp revival meeting. (Anna Whiting-Sorrell photo)

“A big ‘Thank you’ to Freddie and Tammy Matt and their granddaughter, Precious,” Neumann said. “Their music was a great addition and helped many remember previous Curculios, pilgrimages, song fests that were part of the sobriety movement that many want to resurrect today.”

Tribal Health and Human Services Department Director of Operations, Policy and Planning Anna Whiting-Sorrell, who was the main push behind the Celebration of Sobriety camps of the late-1980s to mid-1990s, said the time is right and the energy is there to revive the camps.

“Everyone at the meeting volunteered their time to be there,” Sorrell said. “We want to change the focus of people using alcohol and drugs. People can gather together for fun times while being sober. We want to see the tribal community, the whole community be a sober and drug-free community.”

Sorrell added that the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribal Council has a shared commitment to the alcohol and drug abuse problem on the reservation.

The rainbow on the sobriety camp revival meeting cake was delicious but the one Mother Nature draped over the Arlee Celebration grounds was inspirational. (Anna Whiting-Sorrell photo)  The rainbow on the sobriety camp revival meeting cake was delicious but the one Mother Nature draped over the Arlee Celebration grounds was inspirational. (Anna Whiting-Sorrell photo)

“The Tribal Council is behind this effort and have provided us with $5,000 of seed money,” Sorrell said. “They believe in the message of hope, articulated by Gena (Sorrell-Montoya), that there is another way of life, a better way of life besides (alcohol and drug) addiction.”

Sorrell said the goal of the meeting and yet-to-be-scheduled meetings are to figure out the logistics and other intricacies related to the 2015 Celebration of Sobriety Camp.

“One of the things we will be working throughout the year to figure out how to include other tribal programs in the camp that have a connection with maintaining sobriety,” Sorrell said.

The THHS Diabetes Prevention Program provided the food, drinks and snacks.

Upcoming sobriety camp organizational meetings will be announced well in advance.

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