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Aaron Huey’s effort to photograph poverty in America led him to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, where the struggle of the native Lakota people — appalling, and largely ignored — compelled him to refocus. Five years of work later, his haunting photos intertwine with a shocking history lesson.
Housing & Infrastructure:
* The prevalence of methamphetamine (ME) use among American Indians and Native Alaskans (AI/NAs) is strikingly high in comparison to other ethnic groups in the U.S
Almost 12 percent of the deaths among Native Americans and Alaska Natives are alcohol-related — more than three times the percentage in the general population, a new federal report says.
*Native Americans are incarcerated at a rate 38% higher than the national average.
MORE STATISTICS ON NATIVE AMERICAN YOUTH:
*16 percent of students at Bureau of Indian Affairs schools in 2001 reported having attempted suicide in the preceding 12 months.
*8.4 percent of Native children are in foster care.
*Violence, including intentional injuries, homicide and suicide account for 75% of deaths for American Indian youth age 12-20.
*High school dropout rates are double the national average over 50 percent in states with the highest Native populations.
*Death rates are 2 to 5 times the rate of Whites in the same age groups resulting from higher levels of suicide and a variety of risky behaviors.
*Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death and 2.5 times the national rate for youth in the 15-24 age group.
*22% of females and 12% of males reported to have attempted suicide in the past year.
CURRENT STATISTICS FOR THE PINE RIDGE INDIAN RESERVATION IN SOUTH DAKOTA:
1. 8 of the 10 leading causes of death in NM are linked to the abuse of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs
.2. New Mexico has the second highest drug overdose mortality rate in the United States, with 23.8 per 100,000 people suffering drug overdose fatalities.
3. NM has the highest alcohol-related death rate since 1997.
4. Over the past 30 years, NM has consistently had one of the highest alcohol-related death rates in the U.S.
5. Negative consequences of alcohol use in NM other than death include domestic violence, crime, poverty, unemployment, chronic liver disease, car accidents, other injuries, mental illness, and a host of other medical issues.
6. The economic cost of alcohol abuse in NM (in 2006) was more than $2.5 billion. This translates to $1,250 per person
.7. Death rates related to alcohol increase with age
.8. Alcohol-related and drug-related death rates are significantly higher for males than females.
9. American Indians have the highest alcohol-related death rates among all ethnicities.
10. Counties with the most alcohol and drug-related deaths between 2007-2011: Bernalillo, Rio Arriba, San Juan, Santa Fe, Dona Ana, and McKinley.
11. The rate of alcohol-related injury deaths in N.M. is almost double the national rate.
12. Rates of death related to alcohol-attributable poisoning exceeded those of alcohol-related motor vehicle accidents and are considered the leading cause of alcohol-related injury deaths between the years of 2007 and 2011.
13. The highest drug-induced death rate was found among Hispanic males, followed by White males.
14. Unintentional drug overdoses make up more than 80% of drug-induced deaths.
15. The most common drugs involved in unintentional overdose deaths between 2007-2011 were:
16. In 2007-2008, New Mexico ranked first among all states for illicit drug dependence among persons age 12 and older.
17. 471 persons died because of alcohol or drugs in New Mexico in 2007. This is compared to the number of persons in New Mexico who died from motor vehicle accidents (379) and firearms (295) in the same year. New Mexico drug-induced deaths (23.9 per 100,000 population) exceeded the national rate (12.7 per 100,000).
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. American Indian tribal leaders from northern New Mexico -- an area of the country devastated by heroin and opioid addiction -- met with the U.S. Justice Department over ways to combat opioid abuse amid high overdose deaths among Native Americans.
And both sides say much more needs to be done.
Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohris spoke with representatives and police chiefs from the eight northern New Mexico Native American pueblos Tuesday as part of a push to combat heroin-related deaths across the state, including Indian Country. They discussed ways for better treatment, the need for more law enforcement resources and the desire for an educational blitz targeting American Indian children as young as 8.
“Here in New Mexico we are facing an epidemic,” U.S. Attorney Damon Martinez said. “One of the (pueblo) governors brought pictures of these hypodermic needles they are picking up on a daily basis.”
New Mexico’s drug overdose death rate was the second highest in the nation in 2014, according to the latest available numbers.
For years, the northern New Mexico city of Espanola and northern Rio Arriba County have had some of the nation’s highest heroin-related death rates. The crisis has overwhelmed cash-strapped law enforcement agencies and emergency workers who often struggle to combat Mexican traffickers who provide users lethal “black tar” heroin via a sophisticated system that resembles pizza delivery.
“It’s a wildfire that’s taking off,” Pueblo of Pojoaque Gov. Joseph Talachy said. “It started off small, but then it took off.”
But now the users have gone underground, and the pueblo struggles to bring non-American Indians to justice because of jurisdiction, Talachy said.
According to the new numbers released Tuesday by the New Mexico Department of Health, Rio Arriba County had the highest drug overdose death rate in the state with 81.4 deaths per 100,000 residents last year.
“The fact is, our state continues to suffer from drug abuse. One overdose death is one too many,” New Mexico Health Secretary Designate Lynn Gallagher said.
But health officials say heroin and opioid addiction especially has hit American Indian communities across the country as the number of overdose deaths from prescription painkillers has soared overall, claiming the lives of 165,000 people in the U.S. since 2000.
A National Institute on Drug Abuse survey found that American Indian students’ annual heroin and OxyContin use was about two to three times higher than the national averages from 2009 to 2012.
Heroin and opioid abuse have even stuck in the most remote parts of the country among American Indians.
In Alaska’s Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta region, for example, state health officials say the isolated area of Alaska Native villages and 25,000 residents has around 500 people addicted to opioids. Most of these Alaska villages don’t have treatment centers for drug users.
Earlier this month, tribal officials in the southwestern Alaska village of Quinhagak banished six people over illegal drugs and alcohol. The move came after the village of 700 residents saw four apparent heroin overdoses in one day.
Meanwhile, a nonprofit prescription drug abuse prevention program in Maine is helping make available the drug Narcan to the state’s five Native American tribes. Narcan, whose generic name is naloxone, is a prescription drug that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose. The program set up five clinics on tribal land thanks to a federal grant.
The Justice Department meeting in Albuquerque is part of the New Mexico Heroin and Opioid Prevention and Education Initiative.