There are many factors that need to be taken into perspective when working with Native American clients. There has been many oppressive factors in the lives of all Native Americans from the time the first settlers came to America and into the present time we are in. There is a general mistrust with European Americans by natives, for many reasons. Beginning in the 16th century, many of the settlers wanted the land that the natives called their homes, and because they wouldn't give up without a fight, Europeans found other ways to deprive them of it. Diseases such as smallpox, measles and cholera were deliberate acts of germ warfare, and along with war, imprisonment, malnutrition and the inhumane behavior of the white men, close to 99% of first nations peoples were wiped out. The United States government continually made new treaties with the native people, but there were often loopholes and the treaties were broken, taking more land away from the people who first lived on it. Other acts such as the Indian Removal Act, which is the cause of the "Trail of Tears" and the "Longest Walk," and the more recent acts that went up to the 1960's of taking children off the reservations and away from their families, putting them in boarding schools for years where they were not allowed to speak their language or practice any of their beliefs, and were beaten and abused, physically and sexually, on a daily basis. This form of cultural genocide has had a tremendous impact on Native American people, and are still believed to be partial causes of some of the problems experienced today.
Another form of oppression was the use of alcohol to rid the "savage" from being in the way of the white men. The introduction of alcohol in the 16th century has had continuous detrimental effects on the native americans. Alcohol was used by the Europeans to subdue the indians, making it more easy to remove them from their lands, and keep them from fighting back for anything. The native americans began using alcohol on their own to drown out the pain they were suffering. Because of the exploitation and genocide of their people, these were very trying times, and many native americans suffered from severe depression and were faced with many losses. Many people had lost family members, close friends, homes, etc. and alcohol was used as an escape. Alcoholism is seen as a genetic trait that can be passed down through generations, which it has with the native american people. Although there are many who are aware of the effects and choose to abstain from using, there are many who have taken on drinking habits for many reasons, from just becoming a drinker to having harsh oppressive actions causing them to find unhealthy outlets.
Alcoholism has many ill effects, period, but it is so much more than just that with this...