Alcohol Dependency Among Native Americans

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Like junk food, the health and social problems associated with alcohol dependency among Native communities can also be traced back to the actions of European immigrants. Western movies pushed the unflattering stereotype of the “drunken Indian” onto a mainstream audience throughout the twentieth-century, yet Hollywood was less forthcoming in documenting the fact that before colonisation, alcohol was non-existent within all but a small minority of Native groups located in the American Southwest, where its consumption was reserved for purely ceremonial purposes (Abbott, 1996: 3-5). It was not until white settlers learned that the drunkenness of Indigenous people could be beneficial for trade and treaty agreements that cheap high-concentration…show more content…
As funds appropriated to Native nations by the U.S. federal government are continually inadequate, this practice of medicalisation, which constitutes a cheaper and simpler short-term measure, indeed often takes precedence, maintaining an endless burden for tribal healthcare that “cannot afford a single dollar lost” according to experts (Duran & Duran, 1995: 112; National Indian Health Board, 2013: iii). If it is possible to recognise any positives from this situation, it is that the revitalisation movements made necessary by the systematic disenfranchisement of Indigenous people have highlighted the resilience of groups once dismissed as weak and inferior by colonisers. Though these projects purposefully challenge the idea that Native American identities are defined in relation to the actions of White America, any examination of these efforts that does not acknowledge the conditions that made them a necessity would be insufficient. For instance, had assimilation programmes of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries not forced young Native Americans to abandon their cultural practices, the need to reassert traditional languages and customs in the present day through such events as the Miss Navajo Nation pageant would be mitigated. Certainly, the existence of the latter in no way justifies the former, but
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