Stereotypes about Native Americans and alcohol debunked

A study by researchers at the UA College of Medicine - Tucson dispels myths about Native Americans and drinking.

In contrast to enduring stories about extraordinarily high rates of alcohol misuse among Native Americans, University of Arizona researchers have found that Native Americans’ binge and heavy drinking rates actually match those of whites. The groups differed regarding abstinence: Native Americans were more likely to abstain from alcohol use.

The UA study, published online Feb. 8 in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, was conducted by James K. Cunningham, PhD, lead author, a U.S. Fulbright scholar and social epidemiologist with the UA Department of Family and Community Medicine and the UA Native American Research and Training Center; Teshia A. Solomon, PhD, (Choctaw), director of the Native American Research and Training Center; and Myra Muramoto, MD, MPH, head of Family and Community Medicine.

The researchers analyzed data from a survey of more than 4,000 Native Americans and 170,000 whites between 2009 and 2013. Called the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the survey was administered by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The UA study also used another nationally representative survey, the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System administered by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to measure how often Native Americans and whites engaged in excessive drinking in the past month. Again, findings for the two groups were comparable.

About 17 percent of both Native Americans and whites were found to be binge drinkers, and about 8 percent of both groups were heavy drinkers. Binge drinking was defined as five or more drinks on one to four days in the past month. Heavy drinking was five or more drinks on five or more days in the past month. Sixty percent of Native Americans reported no alcohol use in the past month, compared to 43 percent of whites.

“Of course, debunking a stereotype doesn’t mean that alcohol problems don’t exist,” Dr. Cunningham said. “All major U.S. racial and ethnic groups face problems due to alcohol abuse, and alcohol use within those groups can vary with geographic location, age and gender.

"But falsely stereotyping a group regarding alcohol can have its own unique consequences. For example, some employers might be reluctant to hire individuals from a group that has been stereotyped regarding alcohol. Patients from such a group, possibly wanting to avoid embarrassment, may be reluctant to discuss alcohol-related problems with their doctors,” he said.

Dr. Solomon noted that comparable rates of alcohol use do not necessarily result in comparable rates of alcohol-related health problems. “Native Americans as a group have less access to medical care, safe housing and quality food, which can amplify health problems connected to alcohol,” she said.

“Negative stereotyping of groups of people who have less access to health care creates even more health disparities,” Dr. Muramoto said. “Based on a false negative stereotype, some health-care providers may inaccurately attribute a presenting health problem to alcohol use and fail to appropriately diagnose and treat the problem.”

The researchers feel that their study could impact beliefs about Native Americans’ alcohol use.

“It’s our hope that the media–movies, television, newspapers, radio, Internet–will represent Native American alcohol use more accurately,” Dr. Cunningham said. “It’s time to let the myths about elevated drinking fade away.”

Journal Reference:

  1. James K. Cunningham, Teshia A. Solomon, Myra L. Muramoto. Alcohol use among Native Americans compared to whites: Examining the veracity of the ‘Native American elevated alcohol consumption’ belief. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 2015; DOI:10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2015.12.015

If you’re upset that the Oscar’s has no Black People nominated, just let this sink in. Since the beginning of Oscar time there have only been 3 Native Americans nominated. 3! Can you guess how many won their category? Just one, and that was Buffy Sainte Marie for her music. The other two were Graham Greene in 1991 & 1999. Chief Dan George in 1970. Buffy won it in 1982. Nothing against other races but please tell me how you should be mad that you have no representation at the Oscar’s when Natives haven’t had any recognition in almost 17 years! #NativeVoices #WeAreHere #WeShallRemain #NativeLivesMatter
Vandals strike ancient archeological site near Tucson
By Barbara Grijalva

Video in link

Investigators are seeking help from the public to find the vandals who have done what no one else has ever done in more than 1,000 years.

Sometime between Jan. 9 and Jan. 21 in Catalina State Park someone toppled a rock on which an ancient artist had created a petroglyph.

Coronado National Forest Spokeswoman Heidi Schewel said it may be a petroglyph done by someone from the Hohokam culture.

A petroglyph, also known as “rock art,” is a picture chipped into a rock. This petroglyph looks something like a sunburst design.

Schewel said vegetation in the surrounding area was also damaged.

The site is on Coronado National Forest Service land, so it is a federal crime, and federal investigators are working the case.

“These artifacts are related to past cultures. And the history is important. but so are the connections to people still living today that wouldn’t want to see their past be disturbed in any way,” Schewel said. “We are asking the public if anybody was in that area during that time period and saw something that might have been suspicious up on a trail, in the parking lot, anywhere, anything that just didn’t look right, please call us.”

If anyone has any information on this crime, they are urged to call the Coronado National Forest Supervisor’s Office at (520) 388-8300.

Schewel said the penalty for this crime ranges from six months in jail and a $5,000 fine to one year in jail and/or a $20,000 fine.


Indigenous Book & Authors Festival 2016, Beyond Stereotype, Prejudice, & Racism

“Arigon Starr is coming back to Albuquerque for the Read Indigenous/IFAIR Book Festival at the University of New Mexico.”

March 3 & 4, 2016. The University of New Mexico Student Union Building

Albuquerque, New Mexico

More info at

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Click here to support AfroNative Narratives Documentary by Macha Xochiquetzal Rose
The Black Native Narratives is an interactive documentary project with the goal of highlighting the Black Native (also referred to as AfroNative) experience in contemporary America. Usually left to a few pages in history books, this is an identity that is generally overlooked and highly controver...

Help fund our videos!! It takes about $1,500 per video. This includes airfare, rental car, hotel for two from two different coasts. It also includes rental of a 4K camera and better audio equipment. We really want to give these videos the best treatment, because these stories are so valuable. We also need to get to the individuals that want to be interviewed on camera, and they are all over the country (countries now!). 

We are currently both journalism students in our masters programs studying lots of video. The work will only get better. Every interview is a stepping stone to a great online narrative project. 

Your help counts :)

All native women are beautiful, across tribes, nations, clans, on the reservation and off, all native women are radiating strength, anger, light, and beauty and it’s so refreshing that we are living in a day and age where I get to look at my sisters in the moment, their moments, instead of being propped up in front of a buckskin backdrop for white titillation.
CENSORED NEWS: Navajo water contamination more horrific than Flint's

My name is Robert Seals. I have been following the Flint, Michigan water crisis story and wish to shine a light on another water contamination story that is much older and just as horrific as Flint’s.

The Navajo Black Mesa water supply has, for decades, been destroyed by Peabody Mining Company. The wells have been drained to make slurry in order to pipeline coal and the remaining water supply is contaminated with uranium which is now leaching into the Colorado river. This is the short version of the little known story that desperately needs to be told. There has been no potable water on the reservation for decades. When a city like Flint is in crisis, everyone gets agitated/involved. However, there is no one talking about the tragic situation that has been taking place on the Navajo Black Mesa and no one is being held accountable for this travesty. The spokesperson for Black Mesa is Louise Benally. She will give you the complete story. 

Here is a brief statement from Louise: “Our water has been impacted since the 1950’s on to today. When different minerals were discovered on the Navajo Reservation in the 1940s-1950- through to this day (now 2016), ground water has been used to extract uranium. The ground and surface waters have been used and released back into holding ponds and/or released into the surface waters. Coal Mining on Black Mesa used water to transport coal for 276 miles and continued pumping ground water for pushing Black Mesa Coal to Laughlin, Nevada. Today there are holding ponds that are not monitored at Black Mesa which seep into the run offs/into the surface waterways- headwaters.

There is a lot of contamination on our reservation, in most of the regions- New Lands- Sanders, Arizona. There is no water that is safe for people to drink. In the western agency area, there has been no safe drinking water since the 1950’s, after the uranium companies have moved on. Black Mesa water is being pumped for Peabody Coal Company’s mining operation. The contamination is currently seeping into the Colorado River”

Thank you immensely for taking the time to further investigate and expose this dire situation.

Sincerely, Robert Seals

Why I need Chicana feminism

Because I was taught to stay away from certain styles because they were too “mexican”. With phrases like “the bigger the hoop, the bigger the hole” when I loved wearing big earrings. Being told that red hair against my brown skin looked “ghetto” instead of fierce and bold. Wearing stylish flannels like the pretty pastel haired girls on tumblr and being told I look like a “chola”. Working hard to get rid of my slang because society taught me that it was “unflattering”. That bright red lips were too much. That my natural intense brows are now a makeup “fad”. When in reality all this shit was made up by people that want to put us down for claiming our own identity. 

Guess who found out something horrid about what white people did to my tribe?

So I found out the the Osage own oil on our reservations. So in the 1920s white people would marry into the Osage and then kill their spouse to get the oil rights. And yet that isn’t taught to ANYONE here in the US. Isn’t that lovely? Edit: here’s a link for anyone who is skeptical


In 2012, Matika Wilbur ( Swinomish and Tulalip Tribes) sold almost everything she owned, left behind her apartment in Seattle, and set out on the open road. The former high school teacher had one goal: to photograph members of each federally recognized Native American tribe in the United States.

Wilbur’s photographs are mostly black and white. She shoots on a Canon EOS 7D digital, and a Mamiya film camera. When she finishes Project 562 (named for the number of federally recognized tribes at the time Wilbur began her work), she plans to compile the photographs and share them with the public through various publications, exhibitions and curricular material.

To date, the 31-year-old has driven more than 250,000 miles and has nearly completed her journey. She will finish her tour at the end of the month in the northeastern US. Wilbur has taken thousands of pictures so far. She has met with a range of people that include PhDs, lawyers, tribal elders, designers, grandmothers and artists. But sometimes she worries it isn’t enough.

A search for Native Americans on the internet yields almost nothing but reductionist, 18th-century representations of a “feathered and leathered people”, Wilbur says. She hopes the pictures she’s taking can someday replace the stereotyped, dated ones found in internet searches, and the ones we hold on to in our collective psyche.

“I’m ultimately doing this because our perception matters,” she says. “Our perception fuels racism. It fuels segregation. Our perception determines the way we treat each other.”   Article by The Guardian