I found myself with writer’s block and I never get writer’s block. Ever. Then I realized it was because I had been writing for too many other outlets in the past year and when I started blogging 9 years ago, it was for me. It was my release of my feelings and thoughts. I don’t know if I could ever be a journalist. I think I am strictly op-ed and if people don’t get that I will still write. I don’t write to change the world, I don’t try to change any one’s minds about anything. I do try to open eyes and show the conditions of the reservation I am from because for every success story there are a hundred failures and there was struggle.
I am now crawling out of this mindset of writing with and for really educated people and thinking what they would like to hear. I wonder why I even wanted their approval because the ones who matter are only the ones who are genuinely my friends. And that is not very many. I don’t care if I have a typo. It is not like all summer long i haven’t had anything to write about. I reconnected with an old friend doing time. A long time. I have all four children with me right now, which is a blessing, even if one is stubborn with me, I know the minute he leaves in a few days, my heart will be missing him. My niece was shot in the head and it seemed like a close call there for a minute, but her Lakota spirit and heart are strong. she is 17 and recovering miraculously. She did see our grandma though when it happened. In a way, it makes me reassured that our grandma is waiting for us…someday. Even though I don’t like to think about that.
And the alcohol referendum vote. It was so quick and in such a hurry. And I knew in my heart it would pass. I knew too many people were tired of the threat of going to jail, tired of running in their houses with their cases of beer. Or hoping their cop calling neighbor wasn’t peeking out. Tired of doing 8 hours of jail time or more at the threat of throwing back a beer. I know because that is how I was. I went to jail so many damn times it was stupid. So I “get that.”
But not everyone could have just a beer. Not everyone can drink socially. We are not genetically built for alcohol. All the historical trauma packed into our DNA can not go hand in hand with a depressant. We see it in the street people. We see it in the statistics, we see it in ourselves.
I get that they want the revenue from Whiteclay. Which who knows how much that will be. I heard ten million, which would mean they would have to sell over a million cases (at the cost of how many lives?) I get that the people are thinking we could use that money to build treatment centers to handle the alcohol problem on the reservation. After all the biggest argument during the summer was “People will drink, no matter what. Whether it is legal or not people will drink.” Now I wonder, will people go to treatment, because from my past experience, no one can make a person quit drinking except themselves. It has to come from within them. How is a readily available supply of beer going to all of a sudden cause thousands to flock to treatment? How are the liquor stores and treatment centers to pull a profit if they support each other? It will be a steady cash flow from one to the other, we will still be a poor reservation because there is no plan in place for job development.
Our casino created jobs, did not create a revenue, and created a whole generation of gamblers. We never magically became rich from our casino. Money just exchanged hands and was absorbed in the tribe’s dreaded general fund.
I just wished it was more cut and dry, clear, black and white. At the moment the youngest person on the reservation to die of cirrhosis is 19. I would hate for that to go lower. At the moment the life expectancy is 48 for men and 56 for women. the lowest in the country. I would hate to see that get lower in the next ten years. I would hate to see our infant mortality rate rise and I would hate for our teen suicide rate to rise. I would hate to see more young people die and be locked up.
Sure there was a time I wrote about ending the prohibition on the reservation. There was a time I thought I could handle legalization. Back when i was a horrible mother, back when I walked away from a job I loved, back when I let people walk all over me until I lost my freedom.
Oh well, what’s done is done and I no longer live there. It would be nice if tribal members cared about the water and the land and the children as much as alcohol.