Volume 7, Number 2  
March 21, 2006  
Volume7, Number 13
Honoring Roberta Kitka and Honoring the Eagle Spirit Drum PDF Document Only
Volume7, Number 12
The World of the Fifth Hoop! PDF Document Only
Volume7, Number 11
Wellbriety Totem Pole Raised in Sitka, Alaska! PDF Document Only
Volume7, Number 10
Two Learning Articles: Don Coyhis and D.J. Vanas PDF Document Only
Volume7, Number 9
September 2006 is National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month!
Volume7, Number 8
The 6th Annual White Bison Wellbriety Movement Conference
Volume7, Number 7
The Kootéeyaa Project Wellbriety Totem Pole in Sitka, Alaska!
Volume7, Number 6
Derry, New Hampshire Friendship Center Offers a Medicine Wheel and the 12 Steps Wellbriety Circles
Volume7, Number 5
Discovery Circles
Volume7, Number 4
Words of Inspiration
Volume7, Number 3
Taking a Stand Against Meth:
Recovery is Possible
Volume7, Number 2
Alcohol Problems in Native America
Volume7, Number 1
The State of the Wellbriety Movement
 Printer Version (pdf) of Wellbriety!  Vol. 7, No. 2

Alcohol Problems in Native America:
The Untold Story of Resistance and Recovery–
“The Truth About the Lie”

A New Book from White Bison, Inc.
By Don L. Coyhis and William L. White

And don’t forget…come to the
Wellbriety Movement
Spring Leadership Conference

Denver, Colorado
April 20-23, 2006

Taking a Stand Against Meth:
Recovery is Possible

Give Away!
Those registered for the Conference will receive a complimentary copy of the new book–
Alcohol Problems in Native America

go to www.whitebison.org
to register

A New Book!
The long-awaited book by Don Coyhis and Bill White is now available! Alcohol Problems in Native America: The Untold Story of Resistance and Recovery–“The Truth About the Lie” is a book that will find avid response among the Native American, addictions recovery, academic, history, research and Wellbriety communities. Read about it inside. Purchase it now at www.whitebison.org


Alcohol Problems in Native America
A new history takes a different point of view

  Co-authors Don Coyhis (left) and Bill White sign an early draft of the book at the White Bison Wellbriety conference in Denver, Colorado in 2005.

Don Coyhis (Mohican Nation) is Founder and President of White Bison, Inc. and author of Meditations with Native American Elders

Bill White is a Senior Research Consultant for Chestnut Health Systems and author of Slaying the Dragon: The History of Addiction Treatment and Recovery in America

It’s here at last! The book Don Coyhis and Bill White have been working on for five years is now available to benefit Native American addictions recovery and the recovery field in general. We feel that this book will be useful and find a home in many different communities.

Alcohol Problems in Native America: The Untold Story of Resistance and Recovery-“The Truth About the Lie” came off the presses in February, 2006 and is now for sale on the White Bison, Inc. website, www.whitebison.org. The long awaited book sets the record straight and tells how Indian communities resisted the effects of alcohol on their people for well over 250 years. It backs up its claim with careful referencing to the historic record following every chapter––the references are almost like a book within a book. Alcohol Problems in Native America also gives a thumbnail sketch of the history of the Indian sobriety and Wellbriety movements from the 1950’s onward.

Myths and Facts
There are many eye opening revelations in this new book but one of the most interesting comes in Chapter 4, Firewater Myths: Ideas as Weapons of Colonization. This is a chapter where stereotypes about Indians and alcohol are “de-mythified” so that stigmas can be put to rest once and for all. Four prevalent Firewater Myths are discussed and the truth about each of the four is contrasted and backed up with discussion of the facts. Firewater Myths arose to support the colonization agenda of settlers and are not supported by either historic or medical/scientific evidence. Here are the four myths and the actual facts you’ll find discussed in the book.

Myth 1: American Indians have an inborn, insatiable appetite for alcohol.
Fact 1: The history of the rise of alcohol problems in Native communities was reconstructed and perpetuated in conformity with the firewater mythology.

Myth 2: American Indians are hypersensitive to alcohol (cannot “hold their liquor”) and are inordinately vulnerable to alcohol addiction.
Fact 2: The extent and nature of alcohol problems in Native communities continues to be distorted and misrepresented by the failure to use unduplicated counts in epidemiological studies and by framing all Native alcohol problems within the conceptual rubric of alcoholism.

Myth 3. American Indians are dangerously violent when intoxicated.
Fact 3: There has yet to be definitive evidence that Native Peoples physically respond to alcohol differently than other races or possess a unique biological vulnerability to alcoholism.

Myth 4: The solutions to alcohol problems in Native communities lie in resources outside these communities.
Fact 4: The solutions to Native alcohol problems lie within Native communities.

Indian History and Recovery Now!
Alcohol Problems in Native America is filled with images and documents from the historic record, helping to illuminate and explain an already very readable text. The first photos in the book go back to the 1500’s, showing how Europeans viewed indigenous use of alcohol in the Western hemisphere through a distinctly European lens. Some of the first factual historic evidence for Indian resistance to the effects of alcohol on the Native communities of North America begins as early as 1737 with a group of tribal leaders called the Delaware Prophets. These resisters from the eastern portion of North America include names such as Wyoming Woman, Papounhan, Wangomend, and Neolin. They were followed by the historically well-known Christian Indian Preachers Samson Occom, William Apess, and George Copway, as well as by Handsome Lake, who remained within his traditional Seneca ways. The book also presents the famous 1802 letter from President Thomas Jefferson to Handsome Lake, which is so revealing about the mindset of the day and shows that Jefferson was aware of the impact Handsome Lake was about to make on his people.

How can reading a book about the history of resistance to alcohol in Native America help those on a recovery and Wellbriety journey today? David Kagabitang, Odawa, a mental health therapist working with the Little Traverse Bay Bands substance abuse and mental health program in Harbor Springs, Michigan offers some helpful insight about the use of this book for recovering people. He says, “Any historical information that a client can access about who they are is important. For many years I have collected Native American books and tried to read them and learn from them. I frequently use Bibliotherapy as tool with my clients. I think that enlightening a client to the Native American struggle with substance abuse and adjustment is important information to ground a client in who they are.”

Bibliotherapy…a great term! Reading about the struggle against addictions on the part of our ancestors in days gone by is one of the ways to help all of us answer the question Who Am I? on our own healing journeys. Addictions Counselor Kagabitang goes on to connect the reading journey with the recovery journey. He says, “Reading can be a break from the stress of the world. Being able to capture someone’s attention and have them “relax” for awhile is good. If a person can relax and at the same time learns something really useful that is a double reward.”

Alcohol Problems in Native America
258 pages, paperback
$18.95 plus $4.00 shipping
Order at www.whitebison.com or call 719-548-1000 or toll-free 1-877-871-1495

The past meets the present
The book continues with the history of the Handsome Lake Movement born in the early 1800’s and goes on to talk about the further resistance and vision of the Ghost Dance and the coming of the Native American Church taking shape in the late 1800’s. The work and vision of Wovoka (Ghost Dance) and Quanah Parker (Peyote Sacrament of the Native American Church) lead naturally to the founding of the Native American Church in 1918, the birth of the sobriety movement in the 1950’s and the “Indianization” of Alcoholics Anonymous beginning in the 1980’s. The late 1980’s also see the first glimmer of the Wellbriety Movement, bringing culture back into the recovery journey and emphasizing both sobriety and wellness together.

It is time Indian People rejected alcohol, not because some Indians develop alcohol problems and alcoholism, but because alcohol is a symbol of efforts to exploit and destroy us as a people. It is time Indian People rejected alcohol because it is not part of our nature. When you return home to your people, spread the truth about our true nature. Tell the people to cast off the lies that have been told about them. Invite them to write a new chapter in our history—a chapter written not with words, but with lives lived in Wellbriety. We will destroy the “Drunken Indian” stereotype with every sober breath we take. We will call upon Indian nations and Indian families to detoxify themselves from the poison that was injected into their histories. We will sweat this poison from our bodies and our minds and rediscover the essence of ourselves as Indian People.

–From the book

The sobriety and Wellbriety movements belong to all Native or indigenous people—they are not the property of any one person, tribal group or organization. Chapters 13 and 14 give a brief history of the Wellbriety Movement, revealing some of the events that took place on the four Journeys of the Sacred Hoop across Turtle Island during visits to communities in both the US and Canada from 1999 to 2003. Here are some forgotten words spoken in connection with those memorable journeys.

“Kenny Winans, a Native American and the Arkansas Hoop Journey coordinator, speaks from the heart about the coming of the Hoop to his state on May 19, 2000: ‘I was not prepared for the overwhelming feeling I felt when we accepted the Hoop. I could feel the Great Spirit in the Hoop. I could feel the hope, the love, the strength, the prayers, the tools for recovery, and the cries of our ancestors. As the Hoop was being handed over by the Oklahoma people, Chief Henson said a prayer. We walked across the Arkansas bridge singing because our hearts were full of joy and pride. It was a good day. When we got over the bridge, we held the Hoop high and gave our war cries. Then we went to the park and handed the Hoop to the walkers as Chief Henson gave another prayer. When the ceremony was over, we sat around and visited with old friends and new friends. We look forward to the Hoop being in our state, and we look forward to the future.’”

Extending Oppression and Colonization Theory
Alcohol Problems in Native America extends research about the relationship of oppression and colonization of communities and peoples into a discussion of the alcohol and other drug addictions that often take root as a result. It is one of the first books to make this connection, and it does so very clearly in Chapter 15, the final chapter. This chapter may also provide the basis for other research into a link between oppression of the mainstream people of any society, with the drug or alcohol epidemics that often follow. If oppression can lead to addiction for minority peoples, might this also be true in general? If so, what would be the nature of the “cultural subjugation” of the mainstream that might cause this to happen?

Here is how Chapter 15 introduces itself:
“There are many predictable patterns in the evolving relationship between colonizing and colonized cultures, and alcohol and other drugs play a significant role in these relationships,” say the authors. “While our focus in this final discussion will be on the principles underlying the role of alcohol in the colonization and decolonization of the Indigenous Peoples of North America, the processes we will describe are very similar to broader relationships with culturally subjugated groups within North America and throughout the world.”

The closing chapter connects oppression with large-scale chemical addictions but it does so in a way that is in complete harmony with the goals of an individual on his or her recovery journey. This is an important and possibly life-saving point reinforced by Candace Shelton, Osage, a substance abuse counselor and the senior Native American specialist for the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Center for Excellence in Tucson, Arizona. Here is what she says:

“Chapter 15 is a clear explanation of the historical trauma experienced by Native Americans. Anybody who reads it would understand what we are talking about when we talk about historical trauma. I liked that it wasn’t real heavy on the colonization and the oppression because you can get too hung up in that and it might give someone a reason why they drink instead of being accountable for their behavior. I think the book is a very good educational piece for anybody working in substance abuse and working with Indian people in any way.”

The Future
Alcohol Problems in Native America is an interdisciplinary book that has a message for many different communities. Some of these include: Addictions counselors and treatment facilities working with Native American clients; Native Americans and non-Native people in recovery; Addictions researchers and addictions recovery program providers; Tribal and Native community leaders; Native Americans in prison; Native American history and Indian Studies programs; Secondary, college and graduate education; High school, college and community libraries.

We are anxious to know how this book will be useful for you. After reading it, please take a few minutes to write a few lines about your impressions of the book. Just drop them into an e mail and send them to: info@whitebison.org with “Alcohol Problems Book” in the subject line. All comments are welcome. Mention your background and tribal affiliation, if any. From time to time we’ll share your words with the Wellbriety community.

We at White Bison, Inc. are proud of this book and of the research and many experiences that went into writing it. We are grateful to The Christopher D. Smithers Foundation, Inc. of Mill Neck, NY whose generous grant allowed us to print the book and offer it to you. We honor our ancestors who resisted the effects of alcohol on themselves and on their communities over the ages. Their efforts and good heart encourage us to follow their example today. We thank all of you who have helped make this book a reality with your suggestions, input, feedback and encouragement. We are especially proud of all participants in the Wellbriety and sobriety communities––you are the real authors of this book.

Richard Simonelli
Editor, Wellbriety! Magazine


Alcohol Problems in Native America:
The Untold Story of Resistance and Recovery–“The Truth About the Lie”
By Don L. Coyhis & William L. White


 Printer Version (pdf) of Wellbriety!  Vol. 7, No. 2


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