History of the Umoⁿhoⁿ

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Whiskey

“Rival fur companies competing for pelts introduced the Omahas to liquor” (Boughter 28).  Whiskey quickly became a necessary component of all trading deals, used by unscrupulous traders to get the Indians drunk and swing the deals their way. Alcohol has continued to be a force of dissolution and dissipation for the tribe, contributing greatly to poverty, malnutrition, violence, and death.  As Boughter describes it, “Liquor robbed them of their dignity and destroyed the vitality of their traditional culture” (45). The role of white traders, bootleggers, and “grocers” in surrounding the reservation and illegally supplying Indians with liquor, while simultaneously taking advantage of them and stealing their goods and lands, cannot be ignored. It has been suggested that the Indian genetic makeup, being unused to alcohol, does not have a genetic map to enable the body to break down alcohol —thus increasing their susceptibility to it. A more cynical, but perhaps not less accurate evaluation is that “Native Americans drink too much because it is the only ‘game’ they can chase any longer” (Wagner email). Present day Indians suffer from intergenerational stress—many generations of post-traumatic stress. Is it any wonder they use alcohol and other drugs to self-medicate (Dr. Robins interview)?