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Pine Ridge Indain Reservation: Alcohol and the Native American

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I sent this letter to President Obama today:

I just read the article in today’s New York Times (4/12/12, A14 and 18) about the alcoholism in the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation of South Dakota, where alcohol is banned only to have their Native Americans go across the state border – which is interstate commerce – to Whiteclay, Nebraska to purchase 12 ounce high-alcohol malt liquor beer. The population of Whiteclay is 10, while the four stores generated $360,000 this year and $414,000 last year in – shameful – state and federal excise taxes according to the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission. There’s a blatant conflict of interest, when the state governor accepts $40,000 and the attorney general accepts $10,000 from Anheuser-Busch.
With more than 90% of the Native Americans there born in poverty, 90% of the violent crime related to alcohol, and 25% of the infants born with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, posterity is going to deem this situation another case of small pox blankets delivered to the indigenous people of our great nation.
Couldn’t you mobilize a social response, an AA hospital, for example, and also have Attorney General Erich Holder look into the situation. How can God bless us, if we allow such a shameful social wound to fester in our country.
Sincerely,   Pastor Peter Krey, Ph.D.

In a discussion with my son Joshua later, we thought that Europeans have had centuries, even a thousand years to integrate alcohol and we still have a minor percentage of our populations – perhaps excluding our students – abusing the substance of alcohol. The Native American has not had those centuries and alcohol seems to decimate their population.  It is also a problem that Native American attachment to the land has been broken and their whole life-style disjointed in our detached commercial private property existence. Recently some land in the Amazon was taken over by the government and destroyed, where an Amazon tribe had lived. The chief cried and knelt down, saying that now his life was pointless. It is more than attachment to the land. Their ancestors arose out of a particular stream. Their stories all revolve around the rocks, valleys, mountains, and streams. There is no hope to bridge them over into a life that is not connected to the land, except as private property. I’m trying to understand the inability to face bitter realities. It is really shameful that in this great nation, which is so generous when it comes to disasters, we do not mobilize to rescue our own indigenous people from a social disaster.

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