Alcohol overdosing is not an excuse

I remember when my late grandparents told stories about how life was on the Rez when they were young. My late grandparents used to say it was extremely embarrassing for an individual to be taken to jail for being overdosed on alcohol in public. Too bad our Rez has changed so dramatically.

 

Have you ever seen someone lying on the street passed out from an alcohol overdose? Today, so many of us consider it just another day on the Rez when we see highly intoxicated people in public. Are we are so used to seeing our people overdosed on alcohol in public that we simply choose to ignore it?

 

A member of my local community election committee was obviously overdosed on alcohol while on the job last week during the special election held on my Rez. This person was allegedly harassing tribal voters. Many people lack enough self-respect to be embarrassed when others witness them doing stupid things while they are overdosed on alcohol or other drugs in public places. The worst part of all of this is we are teaching our young people that all of this behavior is acceptable when you live on the Rez.

 

99% of the suffering our children are subject to is due to alcohol overdosing, in my opinion. Most of the calls received by our law enforcement officials are placed because of someone who is alcohol overdosed and out of control.

 

In fact, most people in prison are there because they overdosed on alcohol and then committed an act while under the influence. What started out to be a party escalated into an incident severe enough to warrant criminal prosecution. People who are incarcerated wait for the day when they are set free. They are determined to never join friends in alcohol overdosing again. Some make good on the intent to stay sober when they are released from prison while others do not.

 

Many of our tribal members who have been released from those secure rooms in the Maza tipi soon find themselves back in there after vowing they would never, ever overdose on alcohol or other drugs again. Still, when many of our people are released from prison they often go back to their homes or the home of an extended family member and begin the vicious overdosing cycle all over again. Why doesn’t the Rosebud Sioux Tribe have some type of program to reduce recidivism?

There are many convicted felons living on our Rez. These are Lakota people who grew up here and made bad choices but paid the price through their prison sentences. When they are released many of them return here to their home. Prison has changed their lives. Many come home and actually create a better life.

 

But others will quickly resume the same drug overdosing habits which initially got them into trouble. They make their own personal choices. Soon some of them will assault family members in their own home. And many will get away with crimes because their families are afraid of them. Many of our children and elders live in dismal environments because of family members who lack self-control over their addictions.

 

Furthermore, there are heinous sex crimes being committed on the Rez every single day but many victims are too afraid to report these assaults. They might be threatened by the perpetrator or even by other family members to keep quiet about what is happening. 70% of sexual assaults go unreported.

 

There is a very good chance that sexual assault or molestation has occurred in children or young people who begin acting out in public. It’s pretty sad when our children have no idea of what they are doing when they begin acting out the sexual molestation they are being subject to. Are you a teacher with students who are exhibiting sexual behavior at school? Have you reported it?

 

Sexual predators are extremely dangerous. Some of the research I have looked at indicates that these people do not change. Medical doctors who treat them have often stated that sexual predators cannot be rehabilitated. In other words, they will never get well. Experts also say these people will always have the urge to engage in criminal sexual conduct. I’ve heard people state that local sex offenders have no place else to go when they are released from the Maza tipi. Do you believe would it be a violation of the civil rights of convicted sex offenders if we banned them from living on our Rez in order to protect the innocence of our children?

 

I realize there are some tribal members who are registered sex offenders but continue to maintain that they are innocent of the crime which they were convicted of. Some of these people did time in federal or state prisons. I’m not the person who is going to judge whether or not they are telling the truth; I only know that because they are sex offenders, these people must notify local law enforcement of their whereabouts for the rest of their lives.

 

In any case, our children are being victimized every single day. This ugly fact can only be changed when the cycle of violence is broken. Most sexual predators were not born that way. They were most likely sexually assaulted or molested when they were children. Just one incident can transform the innocence of a child forever. Again, most children have no idea that the physical assaults committed by the adults they love are wrong. Children view most adults as people who are supposed to protect them from harm; right? So why would innocent children believe sexual molestation is wrong when a trusted adult assures them that it’s okay?

 

Alcohol overdosing is never an excuse. Please pray for the innocent children and other people who are constantly victimized by those who cannot control their addictions. If you see or know of a crime being committed, be a responsible Lakota and report it to law enforcement.

 

 

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