Imagine a community where 97% of the population lives below the federal poverty line. An area where the life expectancy is approximately 45 years, the shortest life expectancy in the Western hemisphere aside from Haiti. This community exists in a developed country, with thriving towns and cities only miles away. It is called the Pine Ridge Reservation, and it sits on the border of South Dakota and Nebraska. With extreme weather, rapid unemployment, and crippling poverty, many Pine Ridge residents are living in third-world conditions right here in the United States.
The indigenous peoples of the Oglala Lakota (Sioux) Nation, among other tribes, do not only struggle with a lack of technology, education, transportation, and adequate housing, but they are constantly battling rampant alcoholism. The Pine Ridge Reservation had long been one of the last dry reservations in the United States. But sustaining the addiction and illness that devastates this neglected population is the easy, quick hop across the South Dakota-Nebraska border to Whiteclay, Nebraska. With a population of only 12 people and the home of four liquor stores, Whiteclay sold 4.9 million cans of beer in 2010 to visitors from the Pine Ridge Reservation. In 2013, the Oglala Sioux Tribe voted to repeal its alcohol ban on the reservation, further challenging the alcoholism, domestic violence, and death that is far too common in this community.
Exploring the effects that forced relocation, assimilation, and detachment from culture have on the residents’ behavior in this unhealthy and impoverished environment is the film Sober Indian | Dangerous Indian, made by John A, Maisch, a Nebraska native. The documentary follows four men of the Pine Ridge Reservation who are facing the consequences of alcoholism, like broken families, sickness, and incarceration, as well as the triumphs of reaching sobriety. UNL students have the opportunity to learn more at a screening of Sober Indian | Dangerous Indian on Thursday, October 8 at 2 and 7 p.m. in the Nebraska Union Auditorium. Following the film will be a Q&A session with Native American activist Frank Lamere. This event is being co-sponsored by the Center for Civic Engagement, Office of Academic Success and Intercultural Services, UNITE, and the Institute for Ethnic Studies at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln.
In addition, the Center for Civic Engagement invites students to join them on their Fall Break Service Study ASB (Act. Serve. Become.) to Northwest Nebraska and the Blackhills of South Dakota, where the team will explore the Native American communities of Whiteclay, Fort Robinson, and to serve near the Crazy Horse Monument. For more information about either event, contact Linda Moody or Grace Brown at the Center for Civic Engagement at (402) 472-6150.
More details at: http://www.soberindian.com/