Staff at Pain Summit

A growing body of evidence suggests that complementary approaches help to manage some painful conditions. The Standing Rock Opioid Steering Committee hosted a pain summit in North Dakota in April designed to share positive information and alternative traditional medicines as healthier alternatives to managing pain and addressing addictions within their communities. The event was a collaborative effort between several Standing Rock Tribal programs, Partnership to Advance Tribal Health (PATH) and IHS staff.

Local experts, including the Elders Preservation Council and Standing Rock Youth Council, partnered with external experts to address a wide variety of topics, including:

  • Links/bridges between youth and elders
  • Traditional and holistic views of health
  • Positive coping skills
  • Traditional medicines and uses
  • Tai Chi Easy
  • Syringe exchange program
  • Narcan training (Narcan was given to those trained)
  • IHS pain management initiatives
  • Strengths/Weaknesses/Opportunities/Threats (SWOT) Analysis of communities
  • Massage therapy

Standing Rock Pain Management Summit PresentersTasha Peltier, MPH, Great Plains QIN Quality Improvement Specialist, working with the PATH program, is a member of the Standing Rock Opioid Steering Committee. Peltier stated, “This was a much-needed event for our communities. The opioid crisis is real and has affected many of us directly. Bringing community members together to learn from experts, build a support system and talk honestly about this topic is setting us on a solid path to reduce opioid addiction and deaths while reviving our cultural knowledge. There is still a lot of work to be done, but this is a huge step in the right direction.”

Other attendees at the event shared their thoughts on social media:

“On behalf of the SRST Tribal Health Administration…I would like to say Wopida Tanka (a big thank you) to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Opioid Steering Committee for the AWESOME job on the two-day gathering that was held! This is TOUGH for elders and communities to understand but the HARD TRUTH is drugs are on our reservation, we have an opioid epidemic in Indian Country and needles are and have been SHARED.” [Statement was in reference to the importance of harm reduction efforts such as the syringe exchange program provided by Custer Health.]

~ Margaret Gates, Standing Rock Tribal Health Director

Standing Rock Pain Management Summit Display“Today, I spoke at the Awánič’iglaka (To Take Care of One’s Own Health) Conference on Standing Rock! I gave a talk on ‘Traditional Medicines to Treat and Manage Pain.’ This is something so near and dear to my heart, because I have seen lives ruined and wasted as a result of the opioid crisis…lives of people I love so dearly.”




~Linda Black Elk, Ethnobotany instructor at Sitting Bull College

Standing Rock Pain Management Summit Tai Chi Activity

“Today was the last day of our Awáŋič’igaka (to care for one’s own health) summit and it was amazing! We had amazing presenters and speakers and the people who were there were meant to be there. We’re all ancestors in training and we all have the power to create healthier, safer, thriving, Lakota/Dakota speaking, Traditional plant eating, powerful communities.”

~Alayna Eagle Shield, Standing Rock Health Education Director

“I was inspired to get trained on this [Narcan training] by a friend who was able to save a stranger’s life a few years ago because she had Narcan and training.”

~ Joshua Dunn, Standing Rock Community Member