Alcohol and natives

Another case of blaming the state for not “doing enough” but what is enough and what should it be?

An American-Indian tribe in South Dakota has sued some of the world’s biggest beer firms over severe alcohol-related issues in the community. The lawsuit also names the nearby town of Whiteclay, Nebraska, which has four beer shops that sold nearly five million beer cans in 2010 despite having only about a dozen residents.

Alcohol is outlawed on the reservation … Nebraska State Senator LeRoy Louden has said that after struggling with the problem for years, the state has introduced legislation that would impose restrictions – on the types of alcohol that can be sold and business hours.

This is a case were you can guarantee the lawyers are the only ones who will gain, the alcohol is as stated banned on the reservation; closing the shops will simply mean they will travel further to obtain it.

Anyone who has been to Australia can see a very similar scenario, however badly treated in the past, as they undoubtedly have been, the Aboriginal people are sadly in the same state.  You see it everywhere, bus stations, town squares, on the street.  When I was there, the most striking example was whilst visiting Port Adelaide to see the regeneration of the dock area (like a small docklands in London).

At ten o’clock in the morning, a group of Aboriginal children came running round the corner towards us, a group of a dozen aged roughly between ten and fifteen; as they ran past you could smell the alcohol on them.  Even knowing the problem there, I could not believe what I saw and smelt.

It is a very sad sight but solving it?  The answers you get from Australians vary from the extreme racist solutions ! to the left wing liberal ones that are no answer at all to the problem, but involve throwing more money at it, money that invariably in large chunks goes to Aboriginal lawyers.  Those few who have made it out of the ghettos who endlessly go round claiming ever more rights for their people – even coastal areas are sacred to the people who are achieving nothing of substance other than Range Rovers for themselves to go round in.

One of the strange truths that are spoken of in Australia that I heard quite a lot was that for whatever reason the Aboriginal just can’t adapt to 21st century life, unlike the Maoris just across the way in NZ.  Their lot is not a pretty one and maybe Angry Exile can enlighten me to changes, if any, in their situation.  According to my long established friends out there – it hasn’t.

The situation to a remarkable degree mirrors the one in South Dakota; both peoples have suffered grave injustice but that was a long time ago and the younger generations are just following the same sad route.

Solutions ????

7 Responses to “Alcohol and natives”

  1. Caedmon's Cat February 14, 2012 at 11:40 Permalink

    There are no human solutions to this problem; the excessive consumption of alcohol is merely a symptom of a profound spiritual malaise – regardless of ethnicity, class or culture. Taxing it beyond reach is the cynical means the PTB like to use to swell their own coffers, but it only serves to drive the matter underground, and into the hands of the bootleggers and illicit distillers. Following the Welsh Christian revivals of 1859 and 1904, the consumption of alcohol went down substantially in the province, since many former consumers found their missing fulfillment in their newly-found relationship with God. This was also the case following the Methodist revival in the 18th Century, prior to which the excessive consumption of alcohol was the cause of a host of social evils and criminality.

  2. JuliaM February 14, 2012 at 12:55 Permalink

    I don’t think an inability to adapt to 21c life is at the heart of the North American Indian problem – they took to casinos like ducks to water!

    Someone did suggest that there was a genetic predisposition to being unable to handle alcohol, which I’ve heard before, but I’m unsure of just how true it is…

  3. JD February 14, 2012 at 13:04 Permalink

    hang on, I just need to finish this bottle of wine and then I can…er… what was the question again??
    :)

  4. Harry Hook February 14, 2012 at 15:59 Permalink

    If Custer had only known… he could have taken Little Bighorn with five Glaswegians.

  5. BobG February 14, 2012 at 16:41 Permalink

    Not an uncommon problem here in the US. I’ve spent a lot of time on the Navajo Reservation (the “Rez”, as it is known by them) and have been around the Diné quite a bit. Not all of them have alcohol problems, but it is quite common. It is the largest in the US, and a common way of earning money by some of the young lads is to smuggle booze onto the reservation.
    Contrary to common belief, the American Indians are no stranger to alcohol; many of the eastern tribes made beer from such things as maize and squash, and the ones in Central and South America made various concoctions from local fruits and cacti.
    The problem is cultural; many of the modern-day Indians is that they feel somewhat adrift, and without direction, so many take to alcohol and drugs.

  6. dearieme February 14, 2012 at 18:48 Permalink

    The question at to whether the problem is, in part, genetic isn’t really a matter of opinion. Either the poor sods make the enzyme that digests ethanol or they don’t. Which is it?

  7. whitney February 15, 2012 at 00:08 Permalink

    The enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase has been studied extensively in relation to alcoholism. It is the enzyme that breaks down what is essentially a poison in your body. It exist in different amounts in different broad populations. The most in Caucasians, the least in Native Americans and Aboriginals, Asians in the middle. Addiction is merely a tolerance that increases over time and creates a physical dependency. But without this enzyme, it will be quick and the population will suffer greater than populations with the enzyme. All that said, it is a spiritual malaise or will at the very least create one. I say this as a white drunk (former). Glory be to God.

    http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh301/3-4.htm

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