How to Address Alcoholism on Indian Reservations:
"How can tribes, states, the federal government and local communities deal with alcoholism on and around reservations? If the beer companies and liquor stores are following the law, do they have a further responsibility to their communities?"
Blood on Their Hands
Frank LaMere, Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska
'The Lakota nation slowly bleeds to death while Nebraska and Anheuser-Busch proclaim that there are no easy answers, muttering about legal businesses and capitalism."
Good Profit vs. Bad Profit
Waheed Hussain, University of Pennsylvania
"When the products sold by companies harm a community, they have a special responsibility to mitigate the damage.
But businesses don’t always pay the full social cost. A manufacturer might cause pollution but not pay to clean it up. A bank might create financial risks, but leave the fallout to the rest of us. When businesses do not pay the full social cost, their activities might actually detract from social prosperity rather than contribute to it."
Not a Private Sector Problem
Aneel Karnani, University of Michigan
"Liquor stores and beer companies can't prevent alcoholism or smuggling. The reservation, however, could address the social and economic causes.
It is difficult to hold the beer companies responsible for selling a legal product. Even if they wanted to be “socially responsible,” it's hard for them to avoid selling beer to these consumers near dry reservations, or to smugglers.
If we are going to apply the standards of social responsibility, the feasible target might be the liquor stores — but even in that case, the business would just move to other stores in nearby towns. I don't think social responsibility is the answer to the problem.
The real problem is clearly much bigger: lack of appropriate social and family environment in the reservation, and lack of productive employment. That requires good governance of the reservation."
Communities Must Be Proactive
Richard B. Luarkie, governor, Pueblo of Laguna, N.M.
"Regulating alcohol sales and offering scholarships and training-to-work initiatives can be a step in the right direction toward curbing alcohol abuse.
Although alcoholism shows no bias and afflicts people of all walks of life, the prevalence of it on reservations has brought with it stereotypes and degrading views of Native Americans. Sometimes it seems as though the perception in mainstream society is that Native Americans are the only ones with this crippling addiction. That is, of course, not the case, but as a community we need to do everything we can to shatter that stereotype.
Here among the Pueblo of Laguna tribe, we are taking a proactive approach to alcohol abuse. We offer classes on the dangers associated with drinking and emphasize what we have done right as opposed to what has gone wrong. We have formed a prevention coalition that targets young people, providing them with alternative activities and programs.
Alcohol is not sold during religious activities or when school events like the prom or graduation are taking place.
Two initiatives we have adopted that have been especially successful involve the regulation of alcohol sales. Alcohol is not sold during religious activities or when school events like the prom or graduation are taking place. We also have rules about alcohol in casinos, requiring that it be sold only in designated areas."
"In terms of treatment, we have collaborated with the judicial system to develop a “healing-to-wellness” court. Our tribal council approved a resolution to designate this special court as an alternative sentence for those convicted of crimes and offenses that were clearly related to the abuse of alcohol."