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Red Lake, Minn. – The morning sun was high overhead as Tom Barrett Sr. stood alongside a two-lane highway and watched three young men run by in the 200-mile Anishinaabe Spirit relay to celebrate sobriety.
Over the decades, the battle against addiction has been a constant on the Red Lake, Leech Lake, White Earth and Fond du Lac reservations in northern Minnesota. But recently, the demons afflicting many who call those communities home have escalated from alcohol to cocaine to deadly mixes of heroin.
“Opiates have been around forever,” said Barrett, a former executive director of chemical health at Red Lake. But now, heroin is often being mixed with other toxic drugs such as fentanyl and carfentanil, “and it’s killing people across the country.”
Last week, President Donald Trump declared a national emergency, saying the crisis exceeded anything he has seen with other drugs. A startling surge in heroin overdoses this summer on the Red Lake Reservation 270…