Melanie Ona Longoria
By ROSELYNN YAZZIE
FORT HALL — Melanie Ona Longoria was surprised on Thursday, May 14 with a parade to celebrate her Drug Court Client Graduation.
According to Willeena George, Drug Court staff, the Shoshone-Bannock Tribe’s Drug Court is the only one still going on in the United States and is continuing with their participants via online Zoom Meetings where they do structured classes. They also look to do recovery activities out in the community.
George said they are always there for the clients 24-7.
Drug Court participants check in every day and have just started their soft opening. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday participants call in for UA’s. This is their fourth graduate and they have a total of eight clients.
She said their program is doing well, so much so, that they have been getting requests from outside counties clients to join them. The Drug Court Program has been in existence for two years.
“We’re showing a lot of success in our Drug Court,” she said. “We’re just happy we can be involved with them and show them a better way of living.”
George said they decided to put the parade together since they couldn’t celebrate her achievement at the Tribal Courts building because of the COVID-19 situation. Her advice to Longoria is to keep attending meetings and stay in touch with her recovery.
“She’s done a whole turn around,” she said commending her for overcoming the gangster life and blossoming into a beautiful woman who is strong in her traditions.
A small caravan of cars surprised Longoria at her residence on Wardance Circle. They honked their horns as they rode through the neighborhood and once they got to her home got out and greeted her with hugs. At the tail end of the parade was a truck that contained smudge to bless the journey.
Longoria said she was surprised.
She’s been on her sobriety journey for a year and a half. She was in jail in Bannock County and got out on work release. While on work release she was released and went to get her per capita distribution where she was picked up by Fort Hall Police. She had about 17 charges and was ordered to Drug Court.
She said it was hard in the beginning and she admits she was fighting the process. She relapsed and almost died using alcohol and inhalants.
She went back to jail and went to treatment at Treasure Valley Treatment Center in Nampa. She did 60 days and was doing well having nine months clean. She had another relapse two weeks before she graduated.
She said she self-sabotaged herself and was afraid to leave Drug Court because she was still homeless at the time. She didn’t know what her next step would be. She was able to recognize it was only a one-time thing and jumped back on track.
“Things started happening for me and all these blessings started coming in. I fought through my little struggle. I got a place. Here I am today,” she said smiling.
Longoria said she felt good to graduate because she doubted whether she would’ve ever gotten this far.
“My life’s changed today. My life’s at peace,” she said.
Reflecting, she says a year and a half ago she was really loss, sick with liver disease and diabetes, also recovering from earlier injuries from a car accident.
She said her journey has been long and she’s grateful to be sober.
Longoria said Drug Court has a good support system and the staff, including Paul and Willeena George do a good job being there for them. She learned from them recovery could be fun and there’s always a way around or through something. She also prays and goes to ceremonies to help her through.