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KUNHI-YO “I’m Healthy” Participants Make It a Meaningful Day

(Oneida, WI) – More than 300 Oneida community members participated in Oneida Behavioral Health’s (OBH)  KUNHI-YO “I’m Healthy” conference at the end of August. “It was a fantastic turnout, and we thank everyone who participated,” stated Mari Kriescher, Behavioral Health Director for Oneida Nation. The event takes place every year on August 31, which is International Overdose Awareness Day.

This year’s all-day conference featured opening and closing ceremonies with the Sacred Hoop; talks by Dr. Joan Groessl, Don Coyhis and Dr. Cary Waubanascum Hawpetoss; performances by the Oneida Hymn Singers, Onedia Veterans, the Smoke Dancers and Hip Hop artist SUPAMAN. The goal of the event was to raise awareness about drug overdoses, reduce the stigma of drug-related deaths and acknowledge the grief felt by families and friends. Speakers shared messages of hope, healing, harm reduction and healing from historical trauma.

“Events like Kunhi-Yo are critical to encouraging open discussions about both healing and prevention,” added Kriescher. “It is so impactful to hear not only from the speakers and artists, but also from attendees who willingly share their stories. Overdose is happening all around us. We have to talk about it because it will take every single one of us to bring about healthy, positive change.”

Speaker Don Coyhis described overdose as not just an “Indian problem” but as a “human” problem. He shared the Sacred Hoop, which he says has four gifts: the power to forgive the unforgivable, the power to heal, the power of unity and the power of hope.

Over the past year, dozens of Oneida Nation members lost their lives to overdose. In hopes of preventing further deaths, Behavioral Health staff distributed harm reduction resources during the event, including NARCAN and fentanyl test strips. NARCAN and fentanyl test strips are available free of charge throughout the year at OBH offices.

Kriescher encouraged community members to think ahead to next year’s event, which will again be held on August 31. “We’d like to invite the community to consider attending next year’s event to help our community continue to heal and grow stronger.”

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