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Native Sun News: Director of Native Healing Program recognized

RAPID CITY –– The Director of the Native Healing Program, Stanley LaRoque, received an award for his “valuable contributions and dedication to the Addiction and Prevention Profession” last week in Mitchell.

The South Dakota Association of Addiction and Prevention Professionals honored the Turtle Mountain tribal member with a plaque for his 30 years of working in addiction recovery services.

“I was recognized because I come from poverty. I come from addiction in my family. My father and sister died of alcoholism. I am a sun dancer and the first to graduate college in my family,” said LaRoque of his state recognition.

The Native Healing Program (NHP) in Rapid City is located on the Campus of Sioux San IHS Hospital and funded by the Oglala Sioux Tribe. NHP “clinical services area culturally appropriate alcohol and drug treatment program,” according to their website:

According to Panzy Hawk Wing, Cultural Mentor of NHP, the program has been designed with the needs of Native Americans and the special circumstances in their cultural community are used in this integrated treatment.

“We use wolakota to treat our clients,” says Hawk Wing, referring to the Lakota way of doing things.

After a fire burned down the building of Hope Lodge in April, 2010, the facility lost its inpatient treatment program; which over the years had serviced hundreds of tribal members in addiction recovery.

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Stanley LaRoque grew up in Omak, Wash., and attended St. Mary’s Boarding School. After high school, LaRoque joined the Air Force and went to the Vietnam War.

Following his war time experience, LaRoque had begun using alcohol as a self-medicating means of treating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Like many working in addiction recovery services, it was not until 1984 and three marriages later, that LaRoque “came back to the reservation” by invitation of Pete Swift Bird who through traditional Lakota ceremonies, “helped me get my life back,” says LaRoque.

“He encouraged me to get an education,” said LaRoque of his mentor and adopted brother Swift Bird. LaRoque sobered up beginning in 1984, and by 1989 he began working in the addiction field.

During his addiction recovery career, LaRoque has worked in Spokane, Wash., a treatment center in Alaska, and in the 1990’s he took part in an international pilot program which took him abroad to Russia and Australia.

In 2007, he was recruited to be a Clinical Supervisor at Hope Lodge. LaRoque has a BA and MA in Social Work, with minors in Indian Studies and Chemical Dependency.

And after the fire in 2010 which burned down Hope Lodge, he worked on the Standing Rock Reservation and returned to the Native Healing Program in 2013. And in Feb. 2015, he was named Program Director of NHP.

When asked about his concerns as director in an interview with Native Sun News regarding the Native Healing Program which is funded by the Human Resource Committee of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, whom LaRoque says “has been very supportive of our efforts.”

The new director would like to see a building built for the Native Healing Program which would be used to house inpatient clients. According to LaRoque, “We’ve been approved for the land, but now we just need to get the funding together to build the housing building.”

Panzy Hawk Wing works closely with LaRoque, saying, “Since he has been appointed, our morale here at Native Healing Program has improved 95%. His approach to leadership allows us to work independently and do our best.”

Continues Hawk Wing, “We have a good setting now. This is a good place to work. We have the number one talking circle group in the area. We just recently had seven come over from other groups. They feel supported. More and more people are seeking the spiritual support, inipis (sweat lodge ceremonies), and guidance for themselves.”

On Oct. 9-13, in Washington, D.C., Stanley LaRoque is being honored at the Association of Addiction Professionals (NAADAC) 2015 Annual Conference for his work in addiction recovery.

LaRoque would like to thank the Human Resource Committee for their support and continued presence in the field of addiction recovery for tribal members living on and off reservations.

The vitality of programs like the Native Healing Program in Rapid City, which caters to the cultural-specific needs of Native Americans, is important for a community whose high arrest rate and victimization of tribal members is directly linked to addiction.

(Contact Richie Richards at

Copyright permission Native Sun News
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