For more than a decade, our country has been facing a crisis involving the abuse of prescription pain killers and heroine. Opioid overdoses tripled nationally between 2000 and 2015. A recent hour-long Minnesota Native News radio program explores the devastating impacts this crisis has had on Native American communities. According to the summary:
In 2015, Minnesota had more American Indians dying from overdoses than any other state. That same year, well over half of pregnant Native women gave birth to babies with opioids in their systems. Many American Indians in Minnesota are wrestling with how best to help people heal from the addiction and the historical trauma at the root of this crisis.
But how do you talk about this incredibly painful problem without leaving people with a sense of hopelessness or by reinforcing the ugly stereotype of the “drunk Indian”? The program explores the unique nature of addiction in Native communities and how it is rooted in historical trauma.The bottom line is that a violent or chaotic childhood makes people more prone to opiod addiction
Reporter Melissa Townsend talks about western medical treatments to addiction, the preferred approach by government funders. But the story emphasizes that — from a Native perspective — addiction is a spirit that thrives on fear and chaos. The story explores the personal stories of Native peoples –the backstory to their addiction, the trauma they and their families experienced, and their individual paths to spiritual healing. It talks about the struggles to trying blend both western medical treatments, which are profit-driven and don’t address the underlying spiritual harms, and traditional Native approaches.
It’s a powerful story.
For other news stories — on the anniversary of the Battle of Greasy Grass, on a recent U.S. Supreme Court win for the Choctaw Nation, and on shocking genocidal quotes by early U.S. leaders, read on.