A Lamar Associates Public Service Announcement (PSA) examines the devastating effects of alcohol abuse across Indian Country.
The video created by Red Ant Films—a Navajo-owned, award-winning film and video production company based in Albuquerque, New Mexico—begins by identifying the toxic chemical in alcohol, ethyl alcohol or ethanol, explaining how it enters a person’s bloodstream, wreaking havoc on the body’s organs. It recounts alcohol’s introduction to North America by European colonists in the 1700s, and its spread through the fur trade, becoming “a disruptive force in the traditional social structures of Native peoples.”
Walter Lamar, president and CEO of Lamar Associates, discussed the reasons for creating the video with ICTMN. He underscored the severity of alcoholism across Indian Country and its unfortunate consequences. “At Pine Ridge, roughly 90 percent of crime is alcohol-related, and alcohol abuse impacts about 89 percent of families on Pine Ridge. And that’s just a microcosim of a problem that’s widespread across Indian Country. Nearly all crime [on Native lands] has some relation to alcohol abuse, and the impact it has on families is significant,” said Lamar, an enrolled tribal member of Montana’s Blackfeet Nation and descendant of Oklahoma’s Wichita Tribe.
According to Lamar, the most powerful message comes at the end of the video. It calls on Natives to remember the prayers of our ancestors to help end the destruction of our people.
“Those who came before us prayed for those born and yet unborn. They prayed for us. They did not pray that we would forget who we are. That we would stumble around barely conscious. That we would neglect our children. That we would shame ourselves, and beat each other, and die early deaths. They prayed that we would carry on our ways. That we would live in respect for ourselves and others. That we would nurture our children, spiritualize, look after Mother Earth, and keep our communities strong and healthy.”