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She knows the odds are stacked against these patients struggling to get off opioids. She’s seen firsthand how crooked the path to recovery can be. She also knows she has a few singular advantages, unique to Indian Country, in tackling the crisis.

But those advantages are double-edged — and all too swiftly can turn into obstacles.

There is, for instance, the fact that health care is free to members of Cherokee Nation, as it is for most Native Americans under longstanding treaties with the US government.

“The great advantage is that I basically have socialized medicine,” Miller said, though she’s quick to point out the care didn’t come without a cost: “Free is not the right word to use. It’s something that was earned by their ancestors in a treaty.”

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Image: By I, Aaron Walden, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2271115

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