Tribal Meth Fellows


Ms. Thin Elk holds a passionate commitment to equality, wellness and social justice for all sovereign Native Nations.  Her professional experience includes culturally competent behavioral health practice, research, training and educational outreach with Native communities in the Great Plains area.  A strong advocate for the empowerment of historically marginalized and oppressed populations, Ms. Thin Elk  has initiated development of diversity programming and implementation of human rights policies and assessments in both nonprofit and higher education settings.  Ms. Thin Elk has empowered numerous youth through counseling, advisement and mentoring as well as teaching various courses in Native American Studies.  She continues to deliver effective proactive responses to Native American youth and family health crises, especially pertaining to suicide prevention and intervention.

Ms. Thin Elk currently serves as Director for the Behavioral Health Center of Excellence at the Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Health Board, Northern Plains Tribal Epidemiology Center.  Through this role, she collaborates with the 18 Native Nations in the Great Plains region to eliminate health disparities by applying a comprehensive, culturally competent approach. This approach focuses on how behavior and lifestyle affect overall health by addressing the broad spectrum from prevention to treatment.

Ms. Thin Elk is a member of the Sicangu Lakota Nation and currently resides in the sacred Black Hills (Paha Sapa) with her four beautiful children Donovan Caske (11), Serene Anpa’O (9), Sienna Sakowin (5) and Sophie Wichapi (10 months).  She earned a B.A. in English and a certificate in Native American Studies (2002) and a MSW (2004) both from the University of Iowa.  Ms. Thin Elk has many interests including a love for reading, learning the Lakota language, creatively writing, cooking Italian food and various desserts and, above all, spending quality time with her children and large extended Lakota and Irish family.

Eric-RodriguezEric Rodriguez has several years of public service employment with the Yakama Nation and Pojoaque Pueblo Tribal Police Departments. Eric was a Firefighter/EMT at Yakima County Fire District 5 and Wapato Fire Departments. Eric is a graduate from the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC)/Indian Police Academy in Artesia, NM.

Eric is completing his B.A from American University in Washington, DC, and plans on attending the Pre-Law Summer Institute for American Indian Students at UNM School of Law. Eric is a member of AISES and SACNAS and volunteers at tribal youth events. Eric is Gros Ventre/Assiniboine from the Ft. Belknap Indian Community in Montana and a descendant of the Yakama Nation.

Tonya BussellTonya Bussell-Linderman was born in Eureka CA, to the late Vernon ‘Tootie” Bussell Jr.of the Hoopa Tribe and Barbara Turcotte Houle of the Turtle Mountain Chippewa.  Her father served in the Navy and lived his life in Hoopa, CA.  Her mother’s home town is Belcourt ND. Where she resides and is a Professor for St. Ann’s University and Turtle Mountain Community College.

Tonya graduated from Hoopa High/Captain John in 1984 and graduated from Cal-State Hayward in 1998 – Chemical Dependency Studies. She also attended Rogue Community College – Juvenile Delinquency/Criminal Justice.  She has many certificates and certifications in Domestic Violence Counselor, Batters Intervention Counselor, Suicide Prevention, Crisis intervention, Drug ID and Recognition, Conflict Mediation, Anger Management, and Drug Testing Certification.

Tonya has over 20 years of experience in providing prevention and alternatives to Drugs and Alcohol within the Hoopa community.  She has primarily worked with the youth during this time and continues to work with them currently:  She has worked for the following programs:

Hoopa Division of Human Services, as a Certified Substance Abuse Counselor II.  As a CSAC II she provides counseling to individuals that have issues with drugs and/or alcohol.  She runs groups on a regular basis, both adult and youth. Works with Tribal and County Courts and Probation, Children Services, Voc Rehab, Fit for Duty back to work program, and Mental Health referrals.

Hoopa Tribal Police Department, Office of Traffic Safety-DUI Youth Prevention Coordinator, providing classroom presentation, community meetings, promotional materials, motivational speakers, youth conferences, PSA’s on local radio station, and Enforce Laws on underage sales of alcohol..  Due to the high rate of youth drinking and driving, the Tribe was awarded this grant to work with the youth to provide prevention to lessen the rate of DUI’s within the youth population.

California Indian Manpower (CIMC) Youth opportunity Grant as a Case Manager for youth 14-21.  She assisted in setting goals for achievement in work experience and training.

Hoopa Tribal Youth Center-Director, she wrote grants and proposals, organized fund raisers, provided alternative activities to drug and alcohol use, cultural activities, basket making, dress making, arts and crafts, summer camps, and basketball tournaments. She worked diligently to promote a safe, alcohol and drug free environment with alternative activities.

Tonya has many accomplishments and continues to work to help her community with the issues that plague them today.  Addiction affects everyone and every family has been touched by someone that has a problem with alcohol or drugs.  It is destroying our communities and our Tribes.  Drugs and alcohol is not our culture!

Chad-PfeifferTódich’íi’nii nishłį, K’aa’hináánii bashíshchíín, Béésh bich’ahnii da shichei, Totsonii da shinalí. Kot’eegoo Diné nishłį.

Chad, his wife Jana, son Elliot and daughter Abagail are all full-time students. Although Western education has only been adopted 2-3 generations ago, the Pfeiffer family has accepted Western education as a tool to protect, preserve and promote their Diné identity in the 21st century.  Chad Pfeiffer is currently in the M.A in Counseling program at the University of New Mexico.  He is working to incorporate both cultural Diné philosophy and Western theoretical orientations to best serve Diné people.

After graduating from Macalester College in 2003, Chad was employed (as a paraprofessional counselor) at the Teen Life Center in Shiprock, NM for 5 years. This experience motivated Chad to further develop his skills, in order to support his Diné relatives towards fostering a holistic identity (Si’ah Naaghai Bik’é Hozhóón).  Chad is an active participant in Diné ceremonies and other Native American gatherings.

Kerste-DeCoteauKerste is an enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians in north central North Dakota.  She was born in North Dakota and has resided on the Turtle Mountain Indian reservation for the majority of her life.  Kerste is one of five children, two brothers, 1 step brother and 1 step sister.

Kerste graduated from Dunseith High School and attended college at Minot State University-Bottineau, Turtle Mountain Community college and received her B.S. in Criminology from Indiana State University.  She is currently in the final year of her Mental Health Counseling Master’s Program and is also completing her Marriage/Family Therapy Certification at Capella University.

Kerste’s work history includes working in numerous schools within the area where Native American children make up around 98% of the student population.  She has worked in a Day Treatment Program for children and adolescents who were working through the school system and moving into long term treatment placements.  Kerste then worked in a federally funded program called Safe Schools/Healthy Students where she screened and offered mental health services to the Turtle Mountain Community School system which consists of approximately 2000 Native children.  Kerste is currently employed at Pathways to Prosperity which is an organization completely funded by the Northwest Area Foundation as a poverty reduction agent on the Turtle Mountain Indian reservation.  She is the Community Outreach Coordinator, and she is responsible for managing a grant which will create a community outreach center in one of the poorest isolated communities on the reservation.

Kerste’s interests include Native American mental health issues, suicide prevention and substance abuse issues.  Her passion is to work within Native Communities primarily thoughout North Dakota and South Dakota to create change and empowerment through grassroot efforts.

Lakota-MurrayLakota Holman resides in Anchorage, Alaska. She is currently employed as Program Manager in the Behavioral Health & Rural Services Department with the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium’s Division of Community Health Services.

Lakota hails from Bethel, AK. She has lived in the Lower 48 and Alaska since she graduated Bethel Regional High School. Her immediate family in Alaska and South Dakota includes her husband, Jon, parents, Phyllis and Michael and their spouses Orie and Martha, sister Kristin, brother, David and her dog Razzel. She enjoys time out of work baking, running, picking berries and wondering.

Lakota earned a Bachelor of Criminal Justice from Seattle University and a Master of Education for Guidance and Counseling from City University of Seattle. She has worked in the fields of public health, education, and criminal justice. She worked for the Alaska Native Health Consortium between 2003 and 2009, as a Health Promotion/Disease Prevention Manager, Tobacco Policy Coordinator, and Worksite Wellness Research Manager. Between 2009 and 2011, Lakota was employed by the Association of Alaska School Boards with their Alaska Initiative for Community Engagement as a Community Engagement Educator working with and providing training for school staff, administrators, community members, and students statewide. She returned to ANTHC and the Behavioral Health & Rural Services team in August 2011.

Lemuel-StoneLemuel Stone is a member of the Shoshone Bannock Tribe of Fort Hall, Idaho. He is a certified addiction counselor in the Four Directions Treatment Center residential program. Lemuel recently became the newest member of the treatment team after serving a three year internship. He is a graduate of the Mountain West Addiction Technology Transfer Center’s Native American Leadership Program, a member of a Juvenile Justice Advisory Board, and recently served two terms as a member of Board of Directors for the Native American Church, Idaho Chapter.

Lemuel was raised with traditional values and beliefs, which allowed him to become one of the youngest spiritual leaders in his community and speaks the Shoshone Language. Lemuel has integrated Native American laws, values, and principles into evidenced based curriculum established by mainstream standards. His personal life struggles with addictions has allowed him to place emphasis on a traditional and cultural based model to healing. Lemuel has been married for 23 years and has two children. His daughter is a 22 yr. old college student in her junior year. His son is an 18 yr. old soldier serving in the U.S. Army.

Belinda Aungie is an enrolled member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, located in Eagle Butte, South Dakota. Ms. Aungie is a full blooded Lakota/Mnicoujou.

Ms. Aungie works for Cheyenne River Tribal Health as the tribe’s only Health Educator versus a population of 16,000 and has been working for the tribe for over eight years.  Ms. Aungie graduated in 2005 with a Bachelor’s degree from SI Tanka University, and was accepted to Walden University for Master’s in Public Health in 2008, Ms. Aungie took some time off from the graduate program and changed her program from Master’s in Public Health to Master’s in Healthcare Administration in 2011.

Ms. Aungie is married and has six children, works full-time for the tribe and is also employeed part-time by Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Health Board as a Co-investigator for the NARCH V supplemental HIV/AIDS Grant. Ms. Aungie graduated from the I.H.S. Injury Prevention Fellowship in 2006 and her project title was “Developing a Community Response to Methamphetamine at the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe”. In 2007, Ms. Aungie also graduated from the Epidemiology Fellowship and her project title was “Tracking Methamphetamine Data”.

The Cheyenne River Coalition against Methamphetamine is coordinated and operated by Ms. Aungie and the Coalition has been operating since 2005.