The U.S. Government, along with several religious denominations, systematically destroyed Native Americans’ culture over four centuries. There is no doubt that the broken treaties, forced relocation, and forced assimilation have had a very real impact on Native American communities. We must encourage schools, churches and families to begin re-incorporating these historically relevant facts into our school curriculums, bible study courses, and dinner table conversations.
But no matter how real historical trauma is, we cannot use it to excuse the domestic violence and sexual abuse that is being fueled by overconsumption of alcohol on tribal reservations like Pine Ridge today. If we’re going to have an honest conversation about alcohol abuse on some of our country’s tribal reservations, then we have to acknowledge the role forced relocation and forced assimilation has played in perpetuating this environment. After that, we need to get busy providing the economic and spiritual support to those suffering from alcoholism, as well as those who are being assaulted and abused by those abusing alcohol on the reservation.