By Vi Waln
Methamphetamine use on our homelands is raging out of control. More and more of our young people are becoming hooked on this evil substance. Many of us pray every single day for them to find a way out of their addiction.
We also continue to pray for our relatives lost in alcohol. Heavy drinking is still a big problem in our communities. The cheap malt liquor and vodka sold by unscrupulous bootleggers exacerbates the widespread alcohol abuse.
I bet you know who sells vodka in your area. Most people living in your community know where the bootleggers live. Even little children know which houses the vodka comes from. Asking people in any community where to score a drink will point you in a half dozen directions.
When bootleggers sell alcoholic beverages to residents in their community, they are part of the problem. Many of our people have died because of their alcohol addiction. Bootleggers in our communities have blood on their hands in these deaths, as they were the ones who supplied the alcohol. People who know the difference between right and wrong would not bootleg vodka to their relatives.
I’ve heard some people say that a heavy drinker is going to get alcohol any way they can. This justification has also been voiced by numerous supporters of tribally owned liquor stores. Our people continue to die alcohol-related deaths. Any individual or entity selling alcohol, either legally or illegally, contributes to these deaths.
The first week of the month is generally the busiest time for bootleggers. But some bootleggers manage to stay busy all month, even when people have no money. A concerned citizen contacted me last week about one particular bootlegger conducting illegal business around the clock in Parmelee.
Now, there is more than one person selling alcohol in Parmelee, but I was about a certain bootlegger who allegedly trades alcohol for those Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards. These cards are issued for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and other social service programs. My contact also said the bootlegger has a whole stack of these cards and refuses to give them back to the owners. Instead, the bootlegger allegedly provides the cardholders with more alcohol.
It’s fraud to use another person’s EBT card. I’ve already given the name of this bootlegger to the police. I would advise those people who don’t have possession of their EBT card to report it stolen. If you are not the person who was issued the card, it’s against the law for you to use it in grocery stores.
My contact also informed me that the bootlegger regularly transports several of the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients to the Protective Payee Program, which operates out of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe Community Services building. I recommend that the staff working in the program take notice of who is giving clients rides in to get their money. If something isn’t right, the program is responsible for reporting financial abuse.
My contact also said there’s a lot of bullying taking place surrounding alcohol, EBT cards and cash payments from SSI. Apparently, the alleged bootlegger tries to recruit other people to assault those who owe money. The reward for assaulting others is reportedly a half gallon of vodka.
Bootlegging is against the law. Those people who sell alcohol illegally are a disgrace to us all. Our ancestors didn’t go to war for us so we could bootleg cheap booze to our relatives.
Bootleggers make their living selling death. They would do well to get a real job. People say there are no jobs here but I see several being advertised at the tribal office. Or maybe it’s more fun to trade watered down vodka for the peoples’ food. Consequently, many children go hungry every month because of this.
I’ve seen Karma work in ways many wouldn’t expect. God and Tunkasila knows who the bootleggers are. Our universe always works to make sure we get back what we put out. I pray for the day when Karma catches up to the bootleggers to give them back all the hardship they’ve had a hand in inflicting on the families living in our communities.
Don’t be afraid to report the bootleggers and drug dealers in your community to the police. We are tired of illegal substances being used in our homelands. I hear a lot of talk about banishing drug dealers. Maybe it’s time we talk about banishing the bootleggers too.
A large portion of Parmelee’s population are fluent Lakota speakers. Also, there is an annual sun dance held every July in the community where many go to pray and for healing. The majority of people living in the Parmelee area are descended from famous Itancan. Yet, many are not living in a way that honors our ancestral Chiefs.
This problem isn’t only in Parmelee. Our homelands have many active bootleggers. Our children deserve better. Lakota bootleggers should turn their lives around and stop selling death to their relatives.