Another addict died this week. Did it matter?
While more white people in Minnesota die of opioid abuse than any other population in the state, the tribes are some of the hardest hit by the epidemic. In 2016, 395 Minnesota residents died of overdoses. Native people in Minnesota die at a rate nearly 6x as high as whites. Yet there are no answers.
Native people are roughly 2% of the population of the state. Why are they dying every day from addiction?
American Community Survey data suggests that Minnesota has a poverty rate of 10.8%. Native people, however in our state face a poverty rate of 31.4%. Native people are also less likely to make it through the educational system.
Still, after more than 200 years of attacks by European invaders and their descendants the tribes survive. But, yet the attacks continue.
If white people were dying of opioid abuse at a rate 6x that of Native people, would we be responding differently?
Success in recovering from addiction requires hope and stability. Right now that hope and stability doesn’t exist. We need to change that. We can arrest as many dealers as we want and more will appear. If we’re serious about ending the opioid epidemic, we need to address racism. Here are a few steps to take.
- Learn about Native history and treaty rights
- Support local Native run businesses
- Be a vocal ally
- Support efforts to teach Native languages
- Encourage our schools to accurately teach about the history and cultures of tribes
- Help build a sustainable local economy
- Support young people by showing that you care in whatever ways that you can
- Listen to the elders and learn
- Stop and think
- Question the system