Analytical Essay on Native American Health: Beginnings of Substance Abuse

Posted on June 10, 2010

Native American Heath issues predominantly stemmed from the beginning of western colonization. In the past Indians roamed free, before the interruption of western civilizations they suffered from diseases that were common to them. Because of the fact that the diseases were common to them their bodies had also built up immunity.

In this paper I intent to discuss the coming of western civilization to Indian country and how this affected the health of Native Americans and in many ways incorporated drug and alcohol abuse.

When westerners came they brought many things with them, some of the many things they brought with them were diseases, which Native Americans had no immunity. They also introduce alcohol, which was also new to Native Americans, and they also didn’t have as high a Torrance or understanding of the substance that westerners had, which resulted in alcoholism to many.

“In 1892, sharp-dealing speculators had extracted a ninety-nine-year lease to Salamancea’s site from the headmen of the Senecas, whose reservation snakes along the narrow valley of the Allegheny River. The way they accomplished it was by sequestering the Senecas in a local hotel and lubricating them with alcohol until they agreed to sign.” (introduction Brodewich)

In many early federal dealings alcohol was used to reach an agreement between the Native Americans and the westerners in an attempt for the westerners to achieve their objective, ownership of the land. When western settlers came they brought alcohol, which was new to the Native Americans, they didn’t know anything about the substance and didn’t have the high tolerance the western settlers had. Today it is suggested that alcoholism is a biological disease that is inherited, Native Americans are reluctant to adopt this thought because in their view they see it as an excuse or a way of saying there is no cure.

Also with the coming of western settlers came diseases that such as chicken pox and measles. These diseases didn’t mean much To the western settlers, they had built up immunities to the many of the illnesses they brought, but for the native Americans these illnesses whipped out thousands. Other diseases that thrived through Native American culture were S.T.D’s among those were syphilis. After being transferred to reservations, and finding the land barren, many Indians could not farm. The area also did not have animals for the Native American to hunt for food. Many of the Native women were forced to sell their bodies to solder’s in order to get food to survive. This caused the wide spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

Today certain diseases and conditions are known to affect the Native American population with more frequency and/or severity than other populations. It is important for Native Americans to be informed and educated on these issues so that they may better understand how these disease processes may alter or impact on their lives.

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