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Alcoholism Essay

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Alcohol consumption was initiated on reservations when traders in the nineteenth century started to offer it to oppressed and depressed Native Americans. Natives represent, in fact, the ethnic group with the highest degree of alcohol consumption in the United States. Confinement on reservations after displacement brought for Native Americans identity conflicts and assimilation problems. This situation promoted the abuse of liquor to mitigate the psychological pain inflicted by the dispossession of the land and enclosure in a limited and controlled space. Both the stereotype of the “Noble Savage” and the “drunken Indian” are recurrent figures in mainstream literature of the US.

Native American Literature of the 70s and 80s (American Indian Literary Renaissance) focused on restoring the tribal inheritance of mixed blood Indians who had been alienated both by whites and fellow Indians. Serving in the army during World War II or in the VIETNAM WAR, some tried to gain the respect of their fellow soldiers only to collapse completely and dive into an ocean of solitude after the conflicts ended. Partial consolation seemed to be found in drinking. Assimilation to white culture often times means drinking as whites, thus, CEREMONY, HOUSE MADE OF DAWN, WINTER IN THE BLOOD and LOVE MEDICINE, among others, introduced the topic of the alienated Indian destroyed by liquor. James WELCH, Louise ERDRICH, Leslie Marmon SILKO, and Scott MOMADAY deal with the issue of alcohol abuse in most of their novels; they express a true concern about the situation of their tribes due to alcoholism and propose the return to the ancient ceremonies and traditions to cure tribal members addicted to liquor and restore their link with the earth. ...

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...n Blues. New York: Warner Books, 1996

Brave Bird, Mary E.& Erdoes, R. Ohikita Woman. New York: Grove Press, 1993.

Crow Dog, Mary E. & Erdoes, R. Lakota Woman.New York: Harper Perennial, 1990.
Dorris, Michael. The Broken Cord

Erdrich, L. Love Medicine (New and Expanded Edition). New York: Harper Perennial,

Gunn Allen, Paula. The Sacred Hoop, Recovering the Feminine in American Indian
Tradition. Boston: Beacon Press books, 1986.

Mc. Farland, R. James Welch. Lewinston (IH): Confluence Press Inc., 1986.

Momaday, N. Scott. House Made of Dawn. New York: Harper and Row, 1968.

Silko, Leslie Marmon. Ceremony. New York: Penguin, 1977.

Stookey, Lorena Laura. Louise Erdrich : a critical companion. Westport (Connecticut): Greenwood Press, 1999

Welch, James. Winter in the Blood. New York, Harper & Row 1974

Imelda Martín-Junquera

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