Think

May 14, 2011

Pine Ridge Indian Reservation Houses

Copyright 2011 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Spent a week during April at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota with a group of students on an Alternative Spring Break trip.  We were housed at the Lakota Prairie Ranch Resort and then commuted each day to Pine Ridge to participate in the rehabilitation of two houses that will ultimately be used by Native American families.

Road Construction on Route 33

Copyright 2011 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

This ride generally took about forty-five minutes even though we were navigating a relatively small section of the Reservation.  This length of time was needed as our route took us through a large-scale road project currently in the earlier stages of construction.

Earth Mover Route 33 Pine Ridge Indian Reservation

Copyright 2011 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

15 passenger Ford Van

Copyright 2011 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

As it rained and/or snowed most days we were there, this was usually a muddy mess that occasionally created an adventure for the 15-passenger vans we were driving.

Spraying Route 33 Pine Ridge

Copyright 2011 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Interestingly, on the one day in which we had mostly sun, the road bed was so dry and dusty that the  road crew was spraying to moisten the dirt and reduce the particulate level.

Pine Ridge Think death sign

Copyright 2011 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

The roads we traveled were peppered with “Think” signs that commemorate a place where someone had been killed in some type of accident.  They were quite numerous and, in a couple of cases, multiple signs occupied the same location.   I soon found myself searching for the signs instead of observing the scenery (when I wasn’t driving, of course.) I also found myself thinking about my ten years as a chemical dependency counselor and the devastation visited upon those drinking alcohol and using other drugs, their families, and their communities.

Empty Bottle Pine Ridge

Copyright 2011 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Alcohol use on the Reservation is an epic problem as these statistics indicate.  It is also important to recognize that one of the first parts of the brain affected by alcohol is the frontal lobe.  This is our seat of judgment, reasoning, and decision-making, among other higher-order cognitive skills.  Fairly early in the consumption process, a lowering of inhibition (disinhibition) is created.  These effects become exacerbated in individuals who develop alcohol dependence.  This, of course, means that in many cases, once an individual begins to drink, the ability to think clearly is quickly compromised.

And having negotiated these roads in wet and muddy conditions, one can only imagine the difficulty in doing so when under the influence.

Take care.

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