Regarding the article “Wet towns draw heavy drinkers from across the countryside.”

Dear Editor,
I am writing in regards to an article written in September of 2007 titled “Wet towns draw heavy drinkers from across the countryside,” written by Rachel D‚Oro.

I thought the article was well written and educated people about the problems with alcohol which many Native Nations are facing. I thought the article really painted a good picture of exactly what’s going on and what the problem is. I did however have a few critiques of the article.

The author gave a lot of background information and told a lot about the problems they are having with Alcohol in Nome, Alaska. The article also mentioned several other “drinking hubs” throughout the country, but did not give a whole lot of information about the other “drinking hubs.” I thought it would have been interesting to hear a little more about those towns problems and see how they compare to those in Nome, Alaska.

I also had one other critique of the article which kind of relates back to the first critique I had. The author talks about the “Firewater Myth” that Native Americans can’t hold alcohol and completely dismisses this as a myth and being untrue. As I read this I remember hearing that children of alcoholics and those with alcoholism in their families are more likely to have problems with alcohol. Though I haven’t done any research on this topic I‚m pretty sure there is a correlation, I believe the debate is whether the reason for this is hereditary or whether it’s environmental. This got me thinking about the „Firewater Myth,” so I did a little bit of research. Within doing research for about 30 seconds I found a study done by a reputable University, the University of Indiana. Dr. Ting-Kai Li states that “We have identified two genes that protect against heavy drinking, and these are particularly prevalent among Asians,” Li says. “We have shown that Native Americans, who have a High rate of alcoholism, do not have these protective genes.”

The author blames alcoholism on the poverty, hopelessness, and loss of culture of the Native Americans. I definitely agree that this probably contributes to the problem; however the author totally dismisses the possible role genes play in the alcohol problems Native Americans face. This kind of goes back to examining the other cities besides Nome, Alaska. “Drinking Hubs” mentioned in the article span different Native Nations as well as different areas of the country. I think its interesting different groups from different areas are all experiencing the same problem. That kind of leads me to believe that maybe genes do play a role in the alcohol problems faced by Native Americans since many of these groups have different cultures and different histories yet share the same problems.

One other thing I thought the author could have examined was the things Native American communities are doing to stop the alcohol problem. Some towns have gone completely dry while other just do not sell alcohol on certain days. I thought it would have been interesting had the author examined how these methods were working. In Gallup, New Mexico they have made towns dry, however this does not seem to have stopped the people from drinking, it has just caused them to drink and drive to get to where the alcohol is. The other solution was selling alcohol only on certain days during certain hours, that doesn’t seem to make much sense either. That’s like saying let’s legalize marijuana but only sell it on Wednesdays, that doesn’t stop anything, it just means Tuesday you need to write yourself a note to stock up on pot the next day or go a week without it.

Overall I thought the article was very well written, very informative, and interesting. I just had a few critiques of the article I thought I would bring to your attention.

Thank you,
John Frigo
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