Pikanii Action Team Receives Director’s Community Leadership Award for Making a Difference in Montana
Special Agent In Charge David J. Johnson of the FBI Salt Lake City Field Office congratulates Blackfeet Housing’s Pikanii Action Team in Montana for being selected to receive the 2011 FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award. “The Pikanii Action Team was chosen for this special honor because of its important contributions toward reducing binge drinking and drunk driving in Montana, especially among young people on the Blackfeet Reservation,” said Mr. Johnson. “The FBI is grateful for the Pikanii Action Team’s efforts to pinpoint problems related to alcohol consumption and then jumping into action to successfully address the issues.”
First, the team analyzed data and conducted surveys to better understand the issue and then implemented several initiatives to address alcohol-related incidents among youth on the Blackfeet Reservation. The team determined their efforts should be focused in the communities of Browning, Seville, and Heart Butte, Montana. Among other issues, the group addressed responsible alcohol sales by vendors, a social host law prohibiting the sale of alcohol to anyone under the age of 21, and supported increased compliance checks by a DUI Task Force. The team organized public forums, youth activities, and sponsored a billboard campaign to enhance community awareness about the dangers associated with irresponsible alcohol consumption. One roadside billboard, which read “Drinking and Driving Lead to Empty Lodges,” could be seen by drivers as they entered Browning.
The Pikanii Action Team is comprised of seven people. According to team leader Dorothy Still Smoking, Ed.D., each member contributed greatly to the team’s success, and being recognized by the FBI is evidence that their efforts left a lasting impression on the community. “Receiving the FBI’s Community Leadership Award has deep meaning,” said Dr. Still Smoking. “It also reminds me our work has just begun, and that we should always be mindful of what it takes to provide an environment where alcohol is not easily accessible to youth. To accomplish this, we must continue to work together.” Although the grant money for the campaign was exhausted in 2011, Dr. Still Smoking believes law enforcement, tribal entities, and parents can continue to play a critical role in reducing alcohol consumption by minors by reminding young members of the tribe to make wise choices and educating them about the consequences of irresponsible actions. According to statistics reported by the Pikanii Action Team, tribal members of all ages are heeding the team’s message. In 2009 there were 484 DUI violations recorded on the Blackfeet Reservation, compared to 199 in 2010.
In recognition of the group’s accomplishments, the FBI Salt Lake City Field Office will present the Pikanii Action Team with a certificate of appreciation. As a recipient of the Director’s Community Leadership Award, the Pikanii Action Team will also be honored by the FBI at an upcoming event scheduled for this spring in Washington D.C.
The Director’s Community Leadership Award is one way FBI special agents in charge thank individuals or organizations for their tremendous efforts. Created in 1990, this special award is presented on behalf of the Director of the FBI to honor individuals and organizations, such as the Pikanii Action Team, for their contributions to our communities. To learn more about current and past award recipients, please visit FBI.gov.