Yellow Bird: Abuse of Indians reaches back in history

"Abuse for Indians reaches much further into history. Sometimes, even the abuser can't put his finger on reasons why he does what he does because fear, disrespect, isolation and so on began with colonialism (when one nation or territory takes control of another nation or territory either through the use of force or by acquisition).

When whole tribes were reduced to just a few people by disease, and leaders were killed, spiritual people and family units dissolved, so there was disruption in the nations. That left tribal communities fractured and bleeding with little recourse but to the crawl toward whatever life was available.

To make matters worse, alcohol was introduced. It was introduced to acquire trade goods for little or no cost because the alcohol incapacitated Indians.

Fast-forward to only a few generations ago, when Indians were put on reservations. Their self-worth was challenged by the government and churches. The "Save the man and kill the Indian," slogan says it all.

As tribal nations began to regroup and move forward, they found themselves in the minority and emotionally assaulted. I see addictions when I travel to reservations or in Indian communities. And I find, unfortunately, alcohol and drug abuse has become a rite of passage for many young Indians.

That isn't the rite of passage of our ancestors, and unfortunately as adults and elders, we aren't helping our young to remember what rite of passage means for Indians."

Get the Story:
Dorreen Yellow Bird: Indian youth can learn from history (The Grand Forks Herald 8/11)

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