Battle against booze needs community help on reservation - KOTA Territory News

Battle against booze needs community help on reservation


There is an ongoing battle on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, man versus alcohol.

"It's a daily problem," said Oglala Sioux Tribe Police Officer Chad Roe.

So far this year, officers have received 116,000 calls for service on the reservation.

"The majority of those calls for service involve alcohol," said Roe. "We do the best we can with stopping the alcohol coming across the border, but there's no way we can get it all."

So, police have reached out to the Federal Government for help.

"Part of what I do is respond to state, local, and tribal law enforcement and so when they identify a problem in their community what I want to do is to try to help them as best we can," said U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson.

But both Johnson and Roe say that there is only so much they can do.

"There are so many good people who care about their community and want to do the right thing, and those are the people on the reservation that need to be empowered," said Johnson.

"The problem has to be solved from within," said Roe. "It's got to come from the people themselves."

People, like the staff at the Martin Addiction Recovery Center.

"We have parenting, anger management, we have prevention education, I'm trying to think, corrective thinking," said Clinical Supervisor Suzy Dennis.

The center in Martin opened in 2007.  In 2009, another opened in Pine Ridge.

"Before we were here the closest facility was like 125 miles away," said Martin.

They measure success on an individual basis.

"I've been sober for two and a half years, going on three and I'm so proud of myself," said recovering alcoholic Melva Crazy Bear.

In the last five years, they've helped more than 2,000 families and about 10,000 individuals at the recovery center.

"The trauma is huge, huge," said Dennis. "Things that Stephen King couldn't write about, those kinds of things that our people have been through and the marvelous thing about it is they have hope."

A hope that Johnson sees in others as well, "I see how much they care about their children, I see about how they believe that tomorrow can be better than today and that's what inspires me to continue to make this a priority."

Dennis says about 99% of their clients are from the reservation. To learn more about the Martin Addiction Recover Center go to their website at

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