The way that a piece of machinery tears into the Earth causing destruction, is the same as how drugs and alcohol tears into your spirit. There is no distinction.
Since the spread of European colonization in North America, Native peoples have faced an uphill battle to survive. Native peoples have weathered, direct warfare, infectious diseases, residential schools, The Indian Act, etc. We now face the most daunting task yet. The complete destruction of our homelands and water resources.
That is…unless we find a way to collectively sober up.
I speak about sobriety, because I used to be one of the hopeless ones. I never thought I was going to make it to see another sober day but I was lucky. I was pretty much hand delivered to an Elder who took a shining to me. He guided me through two years of sobriety. It hasn’t been easy, but it has been the most rewarding accomplishment of my life.
Earlier this year I visited a remote northern Native community in Ontario. The severity of drug and alcohol addictions, and poverty has reached epic proportions. This is just one community of the hundreds of Native reserves that are plagued with this pandemic.
When I sit back, and I try to understand the immensity of a crisis that burdens Native peoples today, it is easy to become overwhelmed, and disheartened by the sheer magnitude of the problems as a whole. With all the pipeline developments, tar sands, shale fracking etc…sobriety seems like a side issue. But sobriety should be placed somewhere near the top (or the very top) of everyone’s “To do list”.
Drugs and alcohol are tools of oppression used to sedate and terminate the mind, body, and spirit of its victims. Native peoples need to reclaim their identities as Nations, along with their National ways of life. Mother Earth is screaming for help, and those that can help her best, are the ones sworn to protect her. We can’t answer that call if we are too drunk to hear it, nor should we follow drunk leaders into battle.
I read a story about Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull, how they were sitting in the Black Hill smoking their pipes before going into battle. They talked about the vision they had of the 7th generation and how they would have more power than any previous generation. The generation of people they were talking about, is the generation we now live in.
When I think about my own sobriety, I think about it as a miracle that has transformed me. But in reality, we are all miracles. Its a miracle that we still exist. I don’t know what its going to take for every individual to sober up. I can’t imagine what else Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull saw in their visions, but they saw the 7th Generation of our people rising.
The rising of our people will begin with our sobriety. Our survival depends on it.
Giibwanisi is a founding member of ACTION and Oshkimaadziig Unity Camp. He is two years of sobriety is directly attributed to the clean and sober lifestyle of Traditional Anishinabek teachings.