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One Heart plans to open sober living home north of Hot Springs

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ELMO — A sober living house may be coming to the Flathead Indian Reservation.

A group known as One Heart, or Uti Akitwi in the Kootenai language, has been meeting for one year and it looks like their goal is coming to fruition.

The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Lands Committee was scheduled to consider a proposal from One Heart to lease Black Bear Ranch for $1 a year on Monday, March 6. Subsequent Tribal Council approval would be needed.

The 399-acre ranch, which is located at 649 Far West Road about 10 miles north of Hot Springs, was formerly a dairy farm and llama rescue ranch, according to Levi Hewankorn, a One Heart board member with a ranching background.

CSKT purchased the ranch in May, according to One Heart member Lydia Hewankorn.

One Heart’s goal is to provide drug addicts with a place to stay while they wait for in-patient treatment.

A federal grant for a drug court is contingent upon a sober living home being available in the area, said Jay Brewer, a licensed addiction counselor in Polson. He said the goal is to open the home by June. He said the sober living home’s clients will learn life, job and coping skills with a spiritual component.

On Friday, Brewer said the recidivism rate amongst drug addicts on the Flathead Indian Reservation is 90 percent.

Brewer, a former drug user who has Blackfeet, Cherokee, Mexican and Anglo ancestors, said there are a lot of folks waiting to get into an in-patient treatment program but they don’t have the money. According to the non-profit group’s business plan, the current waiting list for in-patient treatment is 135 people.

“There’s a four to five month wait to get into in-patient treatment, and people pick up other (drug) charges while they’re waiting,” Brewer said.

“It’s time for us to stand up and do something for the community,” said Lydia Hewankorn at One Heart’s meeting on Friday at CSKT’s health and medical facility in Elmo.

The sober living house will provide a clinical program with a limited case management staff, One Heart’s business plan states.

The group hopes to be profitable and have 16 clients by the end of the second year and 30 by the end of the fifth year.

Giving drug addicts the tools they need to be successful is what One Heart wants to do.

“If my daughter hadn’t gotten put away, she’d be dead now and we thank God for that,” Levi Hewankorn said, adding that people like her need to learn skills when they get out of prison.

“A lot of us became orphans or were raised by our grandparents,” Lydia Hewankorn said. “When are we going to stop blaming (white One Heart member) Dave (Rosenbrock) and his ancestors? It’s up to us to heal each other and heal ourselves,” she said.

A number of One Heart’s nine members have relatives in prison because of methamphetamine or other drug addictions, but Lydia Hewankorn said the group’s “big plan” is to expand and not exclude non-tribal members.

One Heart’s business plan calls for the ranch to be a working cattle ranch, starting by purchasing six cow/calf pairs and a bull.

One Heart invites interested community members to their meetings, which are held from 12:30 to 3 p.m. every Friday.

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