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Tribal Affairs

New Chemical Dependency Program To Serve Billings Urban Indians

exterior of the Urban Indian Health and Wellness Center
Jess Sheldahl
Yellowstone Public Radio
Billings Urban Indian Health and Wellness Center recently celebrated an expansion of its chemical dependency program

The Billings Urban Indian Health and Wellness Center hosted a health fair and open house Thursday to celebrate the opening of their new chemical dependency program.

The event started with a prayer from Del Laverdure, who is Crow and Little Shell, which reflected the center’s culturally influenced approach to health and wellness.

The chemical dependency program is the newest expansion to the Center, which Interim Director Leonard Smith said is their endeavor to bring better and more health care to Native Americans in Billings.

“We’ve noticed that there's more and more population in Billings of people moving from the reservations to Billings," Smith says. "And that increases the need for healthcare as we look at our Natives, all of us, trying to develop healthy bodies and healthy minds and healthy spirits."

Kathleen Little Leaf is the Behavior Health Coordinator for the Center and a licensed addictions counselor. She says the chemical dependency program opened February this year as an affiliate of Indian Health Services.

"We started off with 15 clients that month and now in total the numbers have grown and we have approximately served or scheduled at least 192 presently up to yesterday,” says Little Leaf.

Thursday’s open house featured tours of the new facility and speeches from staff and supporters of the Center. Health and wellness organizations from the community set up booths in the newly remodeled basement where the chemical dependency program is located.

The Billings Urban Indian Health and Wellness Center plans to continue expanding their facilities. They hope to have dental and physical therapy services as well as outpatient programs for those who need driving under the influence or minor in possession counseling.