On the reservation we have an epidemic, a plague sweeping across the land; destroying families and the lives of those unfortunate souls. Alcohol addiction, one way or another, is part of everyday life. With the majority of families stricken with poverty, feeling of no value to their families, they turn to alcohol. Alcohol and poverty are the leading cause of this epidemic; they feed off each other like parasites. I believe as strong Dine people, we can come together and take back our lives.
My Father, who is an amazing man, is a recovering alcoholic. In his drunken madness he became an abuser. My mom, of course, being who she is took the worse in order to protect us. I was second to the youngest out of eight brothers and sisters. He stopped drinking when I was born, so I never was a witness to his rage infested furies. However, my older siblings saw the awful violence. He regrets the grief he inflicted on their lives, and for starting a roller coaster ride that burden us today.
Although my Father stopped drinking. and has made up for it immensely, he has had to face the plague he infected with our family everyday. My brothers, who are now dealing with their demons of addiction and my sisters who have separated themselves from spouses who are abusers are mending their childhood trauma, and are coping with their own entities submerged in their lives.
My sisters have overcome their affliction and are on a mission to heal the wounds they help cause. My older nieces and nephews, who are affected by their parent’s behavior, have been through so much turmoil. Listening to their stories, as they hold back tears, they describe childhood memories, memories that should have been blissful, are now tarnished and soiled with gloomy recollection of loneliness and heartache. They are now on the roller coaster of destruction.
My paternal side of my family has been struggling with this disease for as long as I can remember. Although, the older they get, the cravings seem to subside, but by then it’s too late-their children have been infected. How do we stop the domino affect of addiction? How do we as a tribal nation open up our eyes to see the damage we have created? My ancestors of long ago have been through struggles I can’t imagine, the invasion of their homeland, broken treaties, the Long Walk, but even then they were not defeated. Why should we give up now?
We need to make a change, for our families, our health, our heritage and mainly for ourselves. We need our education values restored. With that businesses can be established, jobs can be created and self-esteem can be restored. We need to practice our traditional way of life, with that we can define who we are as Dine’ people. Alcohol and poverty shall not define us. We have the power and strength within us to redirect our lives, and the lives of our children. We need to be willing to make that change, only then we can make a transformation.
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