Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - On November 9, 2023, U.S. Senator Steve Daines spoke at a Senate Indian Affairs Committee hearing about the fentanyl coming across the southern border and harming Montana tribes. 

“The ongoing fentanyl crisis is devastating,” Daines said. “It’s destroying communities, families, and Montana’s tribal communities are ground zero for this destruction. The Montana State Crime Lab has reported a 1,000 percent increase in fentanyl-related overdoses since 2017, and Native Americans are suffering the highest overdose death rate by a massive margin—it’s not even close.” 

According to Daines, Native Americans are twice as likely to die of an overdose than any other Montanan.  

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“The Blackfeet Nation recently had to declare a state of emergency because of the staggering number of overdoses they are seeing,” Daines said. “Fentanyl seizures at the border are up 800 percent since 2019, and the drugs that aren’t stopped are making their way to Montana. Here’s a staggering stat, Montana Highway Patrol, in the first half of 2023, seized enough fentanyl to kill 300,000 people. That’s nearly a third of our entire state. This is the human cost of the open border catastrophe that’s going on right now on our southern border.” 

Daines believes the consequences of fentanyl use bleed into every part of our communities. 

He also gave Fort Peck Councilman Bryce Kirk an opportunity to share how the fentanyl crisis has touched his life and asked what resources tribes need to better combat this drug crisis. When Councilman Kirk asked a law enforcement agent what can be done to curb the fentanyl crisis the agent responded, “Shut the border down.” 

You can listen to Daines' full remarks here.

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