Marty Two Bulls: Oglala Sioux Tribe faces dilemma on alcohol

Marty Two Bulls discusses the upcoming vote facing members of the Oglala Sioux Tribe of South Dakota:
The full moon is slowly sinking to the west behind a nondescript butte dotted with pines. A warm light glows in the east the world stands still silently holding its breath as the Sun Dance ceremony is about to begin. The Oglala Lakota have held this ceremony for over 2,000 years to mark the end and start of a new year. “We dance for the people, we dance for healing and we dance for peace” the Sun Dancer says with a sigh. “In times like these, we have to dance now more than ever.”

The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation comprises some 3,468 square miles in the western corner of South Dakota, in an area unsuitable for farming or industry. It is the last toehold of what was a nation of the seven tribes of the Lakota, whose lands once covered what are now five U.S. states. Today, the reservation consists of nine districts with council representation in the centralized Tribal government.

Pine Ridge holds the distinction of being the poorest reservation and county in the United States. Alcohol rates are high, drug use is steadily climbing and unemployment stands at 85 percent. Lakota suicide rates are the highest in the nation among the youth and growing among the old, although “old” is a misnomer in a place where the life expectancy for women is 52 years, and just 48 for men.

Get the Story:
Marty Two Bulls: Pine Ridge’s Sun Dance Dilemma: Sacrifice or End Alcohol Prohibition? (Indian Country Today 8/9)

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