Series: Bootleggers a big problem on Fort Apache Reservation
"Carol Crocker knows the effects of alcohol abuse, and she doesn’t want them visited upon the youth of her tribe.

Between her children and those of their friends she would take in, she has lost four - two to alcohol related suicide.

She’s not alone.

“Several of my school friends,” says Tribal Police Lt. Lutie Littleman, “are already suffering from cirrhosis.”

The two recently spoke at a meeting in Whiteriver called to point out the dangers of alcohol on the reservation. The problem is not bootlegging in the traditional sense of making alcohol in stills. It’s more a matter of those of age driving up the hill to Pinetop, Lakeside and Show Low and buying quantities of cheap liquor (usually vodka, says Crocker) to resell to minors.

Poverty enters into the problem

“I had a woman come up to me spontaneously on the street,” explained Lt. Littleman, “and admit to me she had been bootlegging, but had stopped. She said she just needed enough money to make her car payment that month, that it was her only way to get around.”

Economic pressures, she says, are forcing people into bad decisions. Crocker says there are a half dozen bootleggers in her own neighborhood, and she just couldn’t take it anymore. A year, ago, she went to the Tribal Council and asked for their help and attention.

“Before, the Tribal Police told me to call the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Now it is a number one priority for the (tribal) police.”"

Get the Story:
Bootleggers to minors a big problem in community (The White Mountain Independent 10/19)

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