The Red Road to Sobriety
The contemporary Native American Sobriety Movement is flourishing throughout the Indian communities of North America. This vital social movement combines ancient spiritual traditions with modern medical approaches to substance abuse recovery. In this spirited, inspiring, and hopeful documentary, American Indian health practitioners and traditional medicine people reveal the importance of tribal values and spiritual awareness in the recovery process.
As the film vividly illustrates, substance abuse in Indian communities must be understood within the context of the “American Holocaust.” Few Americans are today aware that the U.S. and Canadian governments intentionally used alcohol in their attempts to destroy indigenous cultures and obtain Indian lands. The devastating effects of these policies were compounded by the propagation of the “drunken Indian” stereotype.
Faced with the loss of their religion, land, culture, freedom, and pride, Indian families experienced a debilitating syndrome known as intergenerational trauma, an experience shared by many families affected by the Holocaust in Europe.
Despite its powerful indictment of governmental abuse, the driving force of this film is the positive spirit emanating from the Indian people featured in it. Continuing in the ancient traditions of “The Dreamkeepers” and “The Wounded Healers,” these people offer a new sense of hope to all those in recovery.
Told in large part by recovering Native Americans, many of whom work as counselors, the film presents methods and tools that specifically enable alcoholics to help themselves. There is a strong emphasis on spiritual guidance and traditional Native thinking, both designed to encourage dignity and self-worth as a treatment plan.
“The Red Road to Sobriety” is essential viewing in a variety of courses in Native American studies, religious studies and comparative religion, cultural anthropology, public health, psychology, and American history and studies. It was produced by Gary Rhine for Kifaru Productions and was co-directed by Gary Rhine and Chante Pierce (Cheyenne/Cherokee) and narrated by noted actor Benjamin Bratt (Quechua).
See also the companion video, The Red Road to Sobriety Video Talking Circle.