A beautiful 16-year-old hanged herself in the bedroom closet. Her brother stabbed himself in the chest. A two-year-old lay in a casket, bruised on both sides of her face. Gang members beat up a kid in a park across from the Crisis Nursery, and Auntie drinks herself to death on the couch. A four-year-old is left alone in the downtown park all night, the park where all the drunks hang out.
Tragedy is the norm in Indian Country. Why? Because of past atrocities? Racism? A genetic inability to handle alcohol?
Roland believed something else was far more destructive than any of those things.
This is the true story of the miraculous transformation of a Native American father – a transformation that not only brings him to lead his family out of alcoholic despair, but to lead his family to refuse further government entitlements and to fight tribal government corruption and sovereignty.
Roland grew up watching members of his family die of alcoholism, child abuse, suicide, and violence on the reservation. Like many others, he blamed all the problems on “white people.”
Beth Ward grew up in a middle class home in the suburbs. Raised in a politically left family, she also believed that all problems on the reservation originated with cruel treatment by settlers and the stealing of land. Meeting her husband, her first close experience with a tribal member, she stepped out of the comfort of suburban life into a whole new, frightening world.
After almost ten years of living with his alcoholism and the terrible dangers that came with it, they both came to realize that individual behavior and personal decisions were at the root of a man’s troubles, including their own.
What cannot be denied is that a large number of Native Americans are dying from alcoholism, drug abuse, suicide, and violence. The reservation, a socialistic experiment at best, pushes people to depend on tribal and federal government rather than God, and to blame all of life’s ills on others. The results have been disastrous.
Roland realized that corrupt tribal government, dishonest federal Indian policy, and the controlling reservation system had more to do with the current pain and despair in his family and community than what had happened 150 years ago.
Here is the plain truth in the eyes of one family, in the hope that at least some of the dying in Indian Country — physical, emotional, and spiritual — may be recognized and prevented.
- “Roland truly has encouraged many people…the last trip to D.C. was a testimony to God’s faithfulness.” Rev. Robert Guthrie, B.Th. M.A. –Professor, Vanguard College, AB
- “‘Dying in Indian Country’ is a compassionate and honest portrayal…I highly recommend it to you!”Reed Elley, former Member of Parliament, Canada; Chief Critic for Indian Affairs in 2000; Baptist Pastor, father of four native and metis children
- “He was a magnificent warrior who put himself on the line for the good of all…. I can think of no-one at this time in this dark period of Indian history who is able to speak as Roland has.” Arlene, tribal member
- “…hope emerging from despair… This is a story about an amazing life journey.” Darrel Smith. Writer, Rancher, South Dakota
- “…truly gripping, with a good pace.” Dr. William B. Allen, – Emeritus Professor, Political Science, MSU and former Chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (1989)
Dying in Indian Country
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