Opinion: Alcohol abuse affects Ho-Chunk Nation
"Just after 4 a.m. March 24, 19-year-old Darus E. Pettibone of Black River Falls lost control of his high performance Ford Mustang on Hwy. 12 after the speedometer topped 150 mph, authorities said. Pettibone, who had been drinking, did not survive the accident.

The next day 21-year-old Ian Whitegull was sentenced to 10 years in prison for driving a car that crashed on April 20, 2007, killing one person and inflicting life-long injuries on another. Whitegull had a blood alcohol level of 0.29 percent and was driving at speeds of more than 120 mph.

Kirk Standstraight, 26, of Black River Falls now faces 13 bail jumping charges — nine of them felonies — mostly because he can’t stay out of the bars or stop drinking.

The stories and names are many, but alcohol abuse remains a serious threat to this community, to both whites and Native Americans alike. Alcoholism is a disease that shows no partiality to one's ethnicity and has the same devastating consequences.

Yet leaders in the Ho-Chunk Nation should take note. A 1994 report from the Center of Substance Abuse Treatment shows the Native American death rate for people ages 15-24 is 11.4 times higher than for other Americans, which is attributed to alcoholism.

A University of Colorado at Denver study says five of the top 10 causes of death among Native Americans are related to alcohol abuse and dependence."

Get the Story:
Chris Hardie: Answer the problem of alcohol abuse (The Jackson County Chronicle 6/24)