Steve Russell: Inconvenient truths about alcohol in Indian Country

A sign at Whiteclay, Nebraska. Photo from Sober Indian, Dangerous Indian / Facebook

Steve Russell, a member of the Cherokee Nation, argues that alcohol prohibition doesn't work in Indian Country:
No nation has ever successfully prohibited alcohol. Many nations have successfully prohibited certain guns without significant loss of political freedom.

Maybe Indian nations labor under the delusion that Indians are different from other people—more docile—and so they will accept alcohol prohibition. Maybe there is a reservation somewhere that claims to be dry without bad results.

What bad results?

Stick a pin in the map for every drunk driving fatality over several years. Do the pins show you a pattern?

Do you see Indian drunks in public places, either on your “dry” rez or on the streets of the nearest border town?

Ask the criminal court judges about how many assault cases they get and how many are related to alcohol.

Ask yourself if your children have begun to look at the bootlegger as someone to emulate if you want to make money.

Wander over to Indian Health Service and ask if your service area has a lower than average prevalence of alcohol related diseases.

If you live on a “dry” rez, all I’m asking is, please, make the investigation described above. If it shows alcohol prohibition has worked, good for you and please send me a copy of your results. I’m retired, but I still care about this stuff.

Get the Story:
Steve Russell: Bootlegging Inconvenient Truths (Indian Country Today 5/9)

Join the Conversation