Yellow Bird: Committing to a lifetime of sobriety
"When I was a young mother and lived in Oregon, I met many leaders in the Washington and Oregon areas. I was surprised to find that some of the strongest leaders had been alcoholic at one time but now wouldn’t taste a drop because of a commitment they’d made to themselves and the Creator.

In my 15 years at the Sundance, I find that same kind of commitment to the Indian way. You are not supposed to indulge in alcohol or any drugs if you are going to enter the sacred circle of the Sundance. It is a commitment to a way of life — not just during the ceremony, but throughout your entire life.

A friend from the Spirit Lake Reservation in North Dakota told me that he quit drinking because he took up the Sacred Pipe and follows the “Red Road” way of life.

Yet, you have to wonder: Why, given that Indian culture is so prominent on some reservations, is alcoholism still such a problem?

In my view, young people think alcohol is their rite of passage into adulthood. Some never return to a sober lifestyle, and there are others we bury in the arms of Mother Earth. But those who do come through the passage may be stronger people because they seem to understand the evil of alcoholism.

I would like to see Indian people of all ages take a strong hand in keeping our people alive, healthy and alcohol- and drug-free. I would like the change to come from within our communities, from those strong men and women who understand the tight grip that alcohol and drugs can have on a person — and how those addictions can latch on even after one experimental use."

Get the Story:
Dorreen Yellow Bird: ‘Red Road’ leads to a better life (The Grand Forks Herald 8/30)

More Dorreen Yellow Bird:
Yellow Bird: Veterans Memorial Wall an inspiration (8/27)
Yellow Bird: Cancer on Indian Country's doorstep (8/25)
Yellow Bird: Good friends and good chokecherries (8/20)
Yellow Bird: Olympics, a war without destruction (8/18)
Yellow Bird: Investing in college students (8/11)
Yellow Bird: Exploring healthy, traditional foods (8/6)
Yellow Bird: Eliminate smoking at all tribal casinos (8/4)
Yellow Bird: On UNITY, Amtrak and North Dakota (7/30)
Yellow Bird: Sundance offers food for the soul (7/23)
Yellow Bird: Watching the sky for hints of danger (7/14)
Yellow Bird: Humbled by Turtle Mountain tornadoes (7/10)
Yellow Bird: Sometimes the media gets carried away (7/7)
Yellow Bird: Smudging room at North Dakota hospital (7/2)
Yellow Bird: Adventures that stir the spirit (6/18)
Yellow Bird: Exhibit focuses on Arikara Scouts (6/16)
Yellow Bird: My heart belongs to the Great Plains (6/11)
Yellow Bird: White buffalo signals hope and peace (6/9)
Yellow Bird: Sen. Barack Obama for president (6/4)
Yellow Bird: There's good and bad in oil development (6/2)
Yellow Bird: Remembering all relatives a big chore (5/28)
Yellow Bird: Oil on the Fort Berthold Reservation (5/26)
Yellow Bird: Recycle and live lightly on the Earth (5/12)
Yellow Bird: Leaps in America's multiracial society (5/7)
Yellow Bird: Diversity in the United States (5/5)
Yellow Bird: Pollution a threat to North Dakota (4/30)
Yellow Bird: Program graduates Indian nurses at UND (4/21)
Yellow Bird: Recovering from brain aneurysm surgery (4/17)
Yellow Bird: A fight for oil on the reservation (03/31)
Yellow Bird: Excitement in North Dakota's weather (3/26)
Yellow Bird: Thoughts on Sen. Obama and race (3/24)
Yellow Bird: Pray for rain in western North Dakota (3/19)
Yellow Bird: Grandchildren are the greatest gift (3/17)
Yellow Bird: UND powwow survives budget woes (3/10)
Yellow Bird: Stereotypes and Hillary Clinton (3/5)
Yellow Bird: Celebrating 125 years of UND history (3/3)
Yellow Bird: High hopes for Indian health bill (2/28)
Yellow Bird: More Plains foods that are good for you (2/25)
Yellow Bird: Chokecherries, the wonder fruit (2/20)
Yellow Bird: Sadness on a trip to Standing Rock (2/18)
Yellow Bird: It's time for a change in music (2/11)
Yellow Bird: 'Sioux' drives Indian students away (2/7)
Yellow Bird: Another cold January in North Dakota (1/30)
Yellow Bird: Tribal casinos should be alcohol free (1/28)
Yellow Bird: Race and gender in presidential race (1/23)
Yellow Bird: Barack Obama is my choice for 2008 (1/16)
Yellow Bird: Artman right on off-reservation gaming (1/9)
Yellow Bird: Barack Obama's big win in Iowa (1/7)