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2017-04-20 / Voices

It’s Destroying Us

VI WALN
Sicangu Lakota
Sicangu Scribe

Those words say a lot. It is what a health care provider at Rosebud Hospital told me. We were talking about the growing methamphetamine epidemic on the Rosebud Reservation.

Meth is taking over our people. There have been numerous homes burglarized on the Rosebud in the last several weeks. Meth users will do anything to get their drug, including breaking into homes and stealing what others have worked hard to provide for their family.

Every time you use meth, you are destroying your body. Our young people who are addicted to meth show up at the hospital with symptoms they shouldn’t have until they are elders. More and more of our young Lakota people are walking around without any teeth. Using meth robs you of your mind, body and spirit.

There are elders and children suffering greatly because of the meth addicts in their family. Elders are abused and left destitute because their adult children and grandchildren steal what little income they have. Small children are left alone in houses for days without supervision or food because the parents are on a meth binge.

Currently, there are many vacant houses on our reservation. The unofficial number of houses on Rosebud contaminated by meth users is at 400 or more. It’s not safe for people, especially our fragile children and elders, to live in a house filled with meth residual. The Rosebud Sioux Tribal Council does have a standing resolution for our local housing authority to evict residents when a house has a meth residual level of 2.0 or higher.

Kudos to the Rosebud Police Department. They have been working hard to get meth users and dealers off our streets. Many people have recently been charged in our Tribal Court with possession of narcotics. Some of those charges are for prescription pills, but the majority of the drug charges arraigned in Tribal Court are likely for meth.

The RPD usually informs tribal citizens through social media about arrests involving meth and other drugs. They don’t release names but SicanguScribe.com does publish the RST Criminal Court arraignments online so you can see who is arrested for drugs. It used to be that public shaming did a lot to deter crime on our homelands. Today, people are not at all ashamed when they go to jail for a crime involving meth.

We are a spiritual people. Yet, our people addicted to drugs or alcohol don’t have a clear grasp of reality. Their brains are irreversibly damaged by heavy drinking or drug use. Their sense of what is real is clouded by the effects of the drug. By the way, alcohol is a drug.

Addicts, including those who drink, are likely to attract entities that can attach themselves to the user. Local people can attest to this as many have had experiences in their homes when someone was using meth heavily. Some may have brushed these strange occurrences off as something they’ve imagined, while others know the experiences are very real.

Highly intoxicated people often don’t remember doing things while they were drunk. It’s quite possible that an entity took over their body and helped them to commit heinous crimes. Yet, it’s impossible to blame an entity you cannot see. You alone are responsible for your choices.

Lakota people who are heavy meth users, prescription pill addicts, drug dealers, bootleggers and alcoholics are not good ancestors. Unfortunately, there isn’t much we can do for an individual who doesn’t want to get sober or stop selling poison. Still, dealers, bootleggers, addicts and alcoholics are our relatives.

They may be our relatives, but they are also the people abusing our children and elders. Meth users are ruining public housing units and causing entire families to be evicted. They are breaking into private homes to rob families of personal possessions they’ve worked hard for. We live in sad state. Our ancestors would be ashamed.

It’s destroying us.

*Vi Waln is an enrolled citizen of the Sicangu Lakota Nation and is nationally published journalist.

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