Friday, June 15, 2012

Addiction Tales From Hoopa

Posted By on Fri, Jun 15, 2012 at 6:15 PM

If you haven't been over to the Two Rivers Tribune website lately, you're missing out on a powerful collaboration between TRT editor/writer Allie Hostler and New America Media reporter Jacob Simas.

In writing and on film, Hostler and Simas take a nuanced, poignant and tough look at addiction, especially to meth, in Hoopa country, from the myriad possible causes -- including the persistent cultural wound from first contact with non-natives -- to the impacts on not just families but the entire tribe.

Michael caught the meth wave like thousands of people throughout the U.S. during the 1980s. He, like so many youth on the Hoopa Valley Indian Reservation, stood little chance against the drug. By 1990, methamphetamine -- a.k.a. speed, crank, crystal, dope -- was considered epidemic in the rural west and Hoopa was no exception. A 2006 Bureau of Indian Affairs report claims American Indians have higher rates of methamphetamine abuse than any other ethnic group -- nearly three times higher than Caucasians. (from Part 1 of the series, "Hoopa Rez: Ground Zero for Ever-Expanding Meth Economy.")

In Part 2, "Fixin' up Hoopa: A Community's Struggle with Addiction," the journalists look at what the tribe and others are doing to help people recover. An excerpt:

The Sweat Hogs -- a group of men in recovery from the Hoopa Valley -- are finding that spiritual connection via a sweat lodge ceremony borrowed from the Great Plains tribes. The group comes together at least once a week to pray while drenching themselves in their own sweat. It's a clean and sober sweat that serves individual spiritual needs while providing a network of support for participants, some young and some old.

Be sure to watch the short documentary film "Addiction and Renewal in the Hoopa Valley" (Follow the link or click on the video, up top.)

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Heidi Walters

Heidi Walters worked as a staff writer at the North Coast Journal from 2005 to 2015.

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