Bellmon Advised Against Signing Narconon Support Document

The Associated Press,
7 September 1989

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP): Gov. Henry Bellmon is being advised not to get involved in a dispute over a proposed drug treatment center in Newkirk, an aide says.

"It would be inappropriate for the governor to sign any document endorsing a drag treatment center prior to completion of the Department of Mental Health's review of the facility for certification," Andrew Tevington, Bellmon's aide, said Wednesday.

A group of Native Americans asked Bellmort to sign a proclamation about drug abuse that mentions the Narconon Chilocco New Life Treatment Center.

A few members of the group made speeches on the south steps of the Capitol Wednesday, saying five Indian nations in Oklahoma have banded together to address the problem of drug abuse.

But some critics feel the group is simply trying to promote the Narconon center cause the company wants to use 165 acres of the 96-year-old Chilocco Indian School, which closed in 1980.

The Chilocco Development Authority has representatives from the Ponca, Kaw, Pawnee, Otoe-Missouria and Tonkawa tribes. The authority leased Chilocco to Narconon for 25 years in an arrangement that could bring in up to $16 million.

The Native American group's proclamation says the Indian nations were showing their dedication to the war against drug abuse by helping establish the Narconon center. The Narconon proposal has generated opposition in Newkirk because of Narconon' s reported link to the Church of Scientology, which some consider a religious cult.

Narconon plans to open a 75-bed center this fall, and buildings are being renovated. The Oklahoma Health Planning Commission approved Narconon's application in January, granting the organization approval for an initial 75 beds.

Organizers said the Narconon center will draw on the group' s six outpatient clinics in the United States and Canada. Some beds will be available for local drug abusers as well, officials said.

The state Department of Mental Health will assess the Narconon drug treatment program when it is in place and rate it according to accepted standards in the field, state officials said.