Friday, June 14, 2013

Drunk on BEER in Pine Ridge

White Clay, Nebraska is just over the state line, a couple miles south of Pine Ridge Village on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. I lived in Pine Ridge for almost 3 years when in high school. White Clay is a small town of 14 people, but sells almost five million cans of 12 oz. beer annually to residents of the Pine Ridge reservation.

In the 40 years since I was attending Oglala Community High School nothing has changed. The cycle of poverty, government dependancy and lack of moral courage is obvious to all.

The question is very simple, so simple in fact that it’s almost universally rejected as simplistic. How bad does Pine Ridge want change? How tired are Ridgers of their own personal insanity, not to mention everyone else around them? How desperate are they to push through the pain to the other side? Only they can answer these questions. Not you, not I.
The active ingredient in this recipe is the will and desire to change. And the change must start within, in first recognizing their own capacity for personal change, which leads to larger and more permanent cultural change. This will be extremely painful no matter what. I wish Pine Ridgers the best in their vote to allow alcohol to be sold on the reservation. I wish them more success in the populace entering treatment programs who need it. May some day the cycle be broken. I hope it is in my lifetime.


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