‘Native frameworks of recovery from alcoholism have always been framed in terms of hope for a community and a people as a whole. These differences - individualistic versus collective views - of alcohol problems and their resolution constitute an enormous gulf in white and Native understandings and approaches to alcohol problems.
The movements we have reviewed in this book reinforce the idea that for a besieged people, the personal health (recovery) of the wounded individual is inseparable from the personal health (recovery) of the tribe.
Having undergone their own personal transformations, the messianic leaders of these movements conveyed systems of belief and rituals through which their disciples and followers could undergo similar transformations, and in the process incited a process of cultural transformation.
Part of this transformation was a shift from clan and tribal identities to a more encompassing, collective designation of Native tribes as “the People” engaged in a struggle for their very existence in the forces of Euro-American colonization.
No framework of recovery for Native alcoholism has sustained itself that focused ONLY on the individual. As noted in the recently published Red Road to Wellbriety:
“The Wellbriety of the community creates a healing sanctuary - a culture of recovery - for the wounded individual, just as the growing Wellbriety of the individual feeds the strength of the community. The individual, family and community are not separate: they are one. To injure one is to injure all; to heal one is to heal all.”
It may be that insight about the necessity for healing the individual and the community simultaneously, applying to indigenous or tribal peoples, will prove essential to the healing of non-indigenous societies as well - especially when addiction rates rise to high (pandemic or epidemic) proportions.’