A Call to Action
As pastor of the Roman Catholic parishes on the Rosebud Reservation it is my duty to warn you of a clear and present danger that threatens to overcome our communities with a wave of violence not experienced in recent history on the reservation. That danger is a tidal wave of methamphetamine and alcohol flooding our communities.
Two months ago I presided at the funeral of two brothers who were murdered. The two murderers were captured and put in prison. The cause of this tragedy was meth.
More recently there was a high speed accident in Saint Francis in which a young man was killed. The cause alcohol and drugs.
A few days ago there was a drive by shooting in Mission and a person was shot in the face. The cause attributed to the presence of meth in the complex where he lived.
A young man was killed in a car wreck in the upper cut meat area. Alcohol and drugs were the cause. At his wake in multipurpose center gang members assaulted his body in the casket in the presence of his mother and family members. Again the root cause was alcohol and drugs. An unthinkable inhuman action! An unspeakable horror!
This weekend three more young men are in the hospital after crashing their car. Alcohol again. At the moment we don’t know whether they will make it or not.
Meth and alcohol presently are causing so much death and violence within families that we can fall into the notion that this is the normal way to live. I assure you it is not. I invite all men and women of good will Traditional, Protestant and Catholic to join me in a vigorous effort to rid the reservation of these two death dealing scourges. If there are members of your family who are taking meth get them to the Meth Treatment Program in Rosebud and if they are drinking get them to the Alcohol Treatment Program. It is the most effective loving action you can take—and it will save their lives.
If you know or see people selling drugs or alcohol illegally turn them in to authorities. The scandal is that we know who these people are and where they live—all you have to do is follow the path worn to their doors by the users.
If you report meth dealers and bootleggers to authorities and are told “we are watching them” that is not good enough. These dealers of death need to be removed from the communities. We can no longer allow them to kill our young people.
I call on government both tribal and federal to take effective action against the meth dealers and bootleggers.
I call for the establishment of a joint tribal and federal taskforce to put an end to the merchants of death that afflict our communities.
People of faith and good will are not powerless in the face of these evils. We can and must confront the rising tide of methamphetamine and alcohol abuse. The danger is clear and present. We must act.
Fr. John Hatcher, S.J.
Saint Francis Mission
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