American Indians suffer from the highest rate of opioid overdoses in the epidemic devastating the United States



PRAIRIE ISLAND, Minn., August 16, 2018 – The Prairie Island Indian Community, a federally recognized Mdewakanton Dakota Tribe, partnered with the three other Minnesota Dakota Tribes today to join the fight against the opioid industry by filing complaints in the multi-district litigation currently underway in the United States District Court, Northern District of Ohio, Eastern Division.


“Prairie Island Indian Community has been devastated by the opioid epidemic that Tribes throughout the country are facing,” said Tribal Council President Shelley Buck. “Each life lost and family affected takes a toll on the entire Tribe and it pains us to see how these drugs are impacting the well-being of our Community as a whole. This lawsuit is another step towards addressing the issue and protecting our Tribe’s future.”


Prairie Island Indian Community has experienced the following issues as a result of the opioid epidemic caused by the pharmaceutical companies:
• A dramatic increase in opioid/heroin related overdoses and deaths.
• Increased child welfare activity, including drug addicted newborns, and tribal children in foster care due to opioid-addicted parents.
• Overwhelmed health service programs.
• Increased law enforcement and public safety activity, as well as an increased burden on the Tribe’s judicial system connected to the opioid epidemic.


In addition to the filing of these lawsuits, the four Minnesota Dakota communities (Lower Sioux Indian Community, Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, Prairie Island Indian Community, and Upper Sioux Community) work together to proactively combat and address the current crisis by decreasing opioid-related criminal incidents, rates of prenatal opioid-exposure, out of home placements due to opioids and deaths due to opioid and heroin overdoses.


The Complaint filed by Prairie Island Indian Community alleges that pharmaceutical companies have a legal responsibility to act with responsible care in regards to distributing prescription opioids and that, instead they have intentionally supported the idea that there is a low risk of addiction when taking prescription opioids, and engaged in a multi-faceted marketing strategy to flood the marketplace with these highly-addictive substances. The goal of this lawsuit is not only to seek resources for establishment of much needed opioid addiction treatment programs at the Prairie Island Indian Community, but most importantly to force these pharmaceutical companies into acting more responsibly, realizing that behind the paychecks there are human beings affected and lives being destroyed.


The Prairie Island Indian Community is represented by Robins Kaplan LLP in this lawsuit.





About the Prairie Island Indian Community


The Prairie Island Indian Community, a federally recognized Indian Nation, is located in southeastern Minnesota along the banks of the Mississippi River, approximately 30 miles from the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. Twin nuclear reactors and 40 large steel nuclear waste storage casks sit just 600 yards from Prairie Island tribal homes. A total of 98 casks could be stranded on Prairie Island indefinitely unless the federal government fulfills its commitment to create a permanent storage solution. The only evacuation route off the Prairie Island is frequently blocked by passing trains. The Tribe has been pushing for the removal of the nuclear waste since 1994 when Xcel Energy was first allowed to store the waste near its reservation. On the web: