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Montana Tribal Nations Receive $3 Million For Public Safety

Olivia Reingold
Yellowstone Public Radio
The Fort Peck Reservation in northeast Montana.

The U.S. Department of Justice announced it’s awarding four tribal governments in Montana a collective $2.9 million to improve public safety efforts.

Northern Cheyenne, Fort Peck, Rocky Boys and Flathead tribal governments are all getting between $250,000 and $1.7 million in federal grants to build out justice systems and help crime victims.

The largest slice is going to the Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes in northeast Montana.

Rita Weeks, an administrator at the tribal court, helped write the four grants the Fort Peck Tribes won. She says the Tribes want to use the grant money to develop treatment programs on the reservation.

"Right now, there aren’t too many alternates to putting a person in jail," Weeks said. 

There’s one treatment center on the reservation, the Spotted Bull Recovery Center in Poplar.

"Right now, we wait in line for a bed for treatment for people," Weeks said. 

Weeks says the grants could go towards creating community-based alternatives to inpatient addiction treatment.

One of the grants, a $700,000 check from the Bureau of Justice Assistance, will go towards a new office for prosecutors, public defenders and probation officers, according to Weeks.

"That was the one I’m so happy we got," Weeks said.

She says the plan is to build a three-sided building with a modern design and 17 offices.

The Assiniboine and Sioux are one of 149 tribal governments that received grants through an annual tribal assistance program at the U.S. Department of Justice. Last year the Tribes were awarded about a fifth of what they got this year, about $320,000 dollars.

Weeks says the Tribes are finishing up some final paperwork but plan to get started right away.

Olivia Reingold is Yellowstone Public Radio’s Report for America corps member.