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The discovery of gold in the west caused an immense migration during the last half of the nineteenth century. This migration caused Native Americans to be forced on to reservations, which was detrimental to their society. As a result of this relocation, Native Americans have faced and will continue to face many problems including alcoholism and suicide. Michael Dorris's novel, A Yellow Raft in Blue Water, explores these issues in Native Americans' lives.
The Native Americans easily assimilated the Americans' heavy drinking problems. They were already facing many problems due to being forced off their land. Drinking was a part of everyday life of Americans. Both business and government encouraged regular consumption of alcohol. Commenting on Americans' lifestyles, author William Unrau states, "Drunkenness was "everywhere prevalent, "and the quantity of spirits consumed was " scandalous" (2). Obviously, alcohol became a "necessity of life" to Americans. Alcohol was also involved in the typical Americans' workday. It was a persuasive incentive that kept workers blinded from the gloomy reality that they lived their day to day lives. Therefore, it is evident that Americans themselves used alcohol to cover up their daily problems, similar to how it was used by Native Americans today. William Unrau describes the consequence of American drinking habits as linked to Native American as, "The inordinate indulgence of the Indians in spirituous liquors is one of the most deplorable consequences, which was resulted from the intercourse with civilized
man" (9). It is clearly stated that the Native Americans forcefully inherited this habit due to their relationship with Americans.
Alcohol became a regular habit for many Native Americans. Every family had their share of alcohol problems. For example in A Yellow Raft in Blue Water, alcohol was a factor in everyone's life. Most of Rayona's family and friends participated in drinking. Rayona's mother, Christine, is sick in the hospital because of drinking problems. In the hospital doctors tell her, "if she doesn't stop slow down she's going to shoot her liver" (Dorris 8). Alcohol in their society was, "So invigorating did the Indians find alcohol that they often referred to it as "milk" or better yet, "our father's milk" (Unrau 16).
Since Native Americans did not produce alcohol, it was usually traded or sold to them by Americans. The Natives could get it with the greatest of ease. During the first Jefferson administration, policies were made to prevent Native Americans from obtaining their spirituous liquors. However, these policies could not stop the natives from acquiring alcohol. Traders continued to exchange alcohol for their exchange alcohol for their native goods and dealers continued to sell alcohol to the Indians. Native Americans continued to obtain these spirituous liquors although many acts and treaties were passed. Indian alcohol problems got so out of hand an act was passed in 1834. It was known as The Trade and Intercour
Quotes talked about in this paper
- William Unrau states, "Drunkenness was "everywhere prevalent, "and the quantity of spirits consumed was " ...
- William Unrau describes the consequence of American drinking habits as linked to Native American as, "The inordinate indulgence of the Indians in spirituous liquors is one of the most deplorable consequences, which was resulted from the intercourse with civilized man" ...
- David Lester, author of, Suicide in American Indians, notes, "A large portion of attempted and completed suicides occurred when the individual had been drinking" ...
Terminology referenced in this essay
Names talked about in this research paper
Christine, William Unrau, Michael Dorris, Samuel C. Roby, Rayona, Waddell, Samuel, Charles Hempstead, Potter, Jefferson, David Lester, Mole Pettijohn, Charles, Simpson Vassar, Garfield, Jackson, Arthur,
Organizations referenced in this report
National Institutes of Health, Jefferson administration, United States Department of Health and Human Resources,
Movie included in this research paper
Health Conditions talked about in this essay
major depressive disorder, alcoholism, malnutrition,
Keywords mentioned in this essay
alcohol, problems, the native americans, suicide, Michael Dorris, language barrier, fetal alcohol syndrome, native tongue, liquors, heavy drinking, suicide prevention, this habit, Christine, family and friends, health, major depressive disorder, Indian country, everyday life, our father, nineteenth century, useless, Jefferson administration, one hundred thousand, show, civilized man, loved ones, socioeconomic status, the same way, premature death, crisis intervention, twentieth century, pharmaceutical drugs, great numbers, regular, general population, mass transit, present time, States Department, the indians, trades, telephone, Human Resources, main, Raft, alcoholism, minorities, dangers, risks, addiction, policies,