This is the second in the series of interviews with leaders of the St. Francis Mission, for background, see An Introduction to the St. Francis Mission Among the Lakota
We continue with the interview, this time the emphasis is on the culturally devastating effects of addiction.
Q: The St. Francis Mission among the Lakota website and literature implies that addiction and alcoholism is a devastating problem for the Native American population. It states that “All the people on the Rosebud Reservation are affected by the disease of addiction.”
I can assume that this means that if someone is not an addict, then they know someone who is and are hurt by it in some way?
(Fr. Hatcher) A: Correct.
(Mrs. Provencial) A: Yes.
Q: Is this common amongst Native American populations?
(Fr. Hatcher) A: Yes.
(Mrs. Provencial) A: Yes, on the Rosebud Reservation, I cannot answer for the other native tribes.
Q: Any general cause for this?
(Fr. Hatcher) A: The biggest problem is alcohol and drug addiction. This has occurred on every reservation that I have ever been on and it is completely devastating to these people.
(Mrs. Provencial) A : Everyone has their own opinions, but I believe it is the loss of identity, spirituality, religion, language and most of all, leadership.
Q: Is this a reason for any demographic concern amongst the Lakota? Is their population suffering from decline, either through a higher death-rate or emigration off the reservation?
(Fr. Hatcher) A: Of the 20,000 people on the reservation, 43% of them are 18 years of age or younger. These young people, for the most part, have no religious center, high alcoholism, high gang participation, and a very high suicide rate.
(Mrs. Provencial) A: Yes, there is reason for demographic concern amongst the Lakota. The population is suffering from decline through a higher death rate due to alcohol related accidents, suicides, crimes, gangs, prison and a split-second simple feeling of hopelessness that can overwhelm a young person and lead to a completed or attempt of suicide.Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! (Thank you!!)"The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics"