Prior to the arrival of the whites, Native Americans experienced little to no contact with alcohol, or “firewater.” The main introduction of alcohol to Native Americans came through the fur trade. Quickly upon its initiation to Native Americans, alcohol had various social, economic, and political ramifications. [note] To form new relations with Native Americans and to continue existing ones, the consistent distribution of alcohol was established.
Early French Jesuits linked alcohol to the destruction of the North American Indian, mainly because alcohol hindered their ability to converge the Native Americans. [anthropologica] Liquor was blamed for the violence and disorder among tribes however this violence was common even before alcohol due to the importance of dreams. Dreams are vital in Iroquois culture and religion and there was a certain emphasis on the interpretation of such dreams. Since these dreams represented the desires of the soul, acts that take place in a dream or vision are regarded as sacred and must be carried out in reality, usually without consideration of its moral consequences.
With alcohol, dream-like states and moments of bliss are achieved. Although there is concrete evidence lacking, it is common to believe that seventeenth century Iroquois used alcohol as a shortcut to visions and dreams. [note—disorderly] Through intoxication, Iroquois would achieve an out of body experience. Unlike the Jesuits, who spent much time observing and interacting with the Iroquois, the Iroquois did not regard the temporary loss of conscience as an act of impiety. By getting outside the normal human physical order they would get inside the spiritual order and ultimately more in touch w...
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...gher. [Page] Similarly, looking at the same age group, Native American women, in regards to both of those indicators, respectively, versus United States women, show rates of 3.4 and 12. [Page]
When the numbers and details are presented clearly, it is easy to notice which stereotypes are factual, and which are simply myths. It is, however, understandable for certain false stereotypes to be believed when statistics are manipulated. For example, in New Mexico, 115 alcohol-dependent Navajo accounted for 1,200 arrests in one 18 months. [note] This fact is easily presented as 1,200 Navajo with a drinking problem rather than 115 Navajo with a chronic drinking problem. The same goes for morbidity rates as one person can visit a clinic or hospital multiple times. [note] Programs for various tribes can be adapted to fit other tribes, as long local data is not misrepresented.
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