One Hundred Years of Prohibition at the Grand Ronde Indian Reservation

From the earliest administrative history of the reservations, the United States government worked to control the access of native people to alcohol and made it a crime to sell to natives. The control of alcohol was linked to issues of halting the corruption of moral values of the Indians, and to pseudo-scientific stereotypes that linked natives to alcoholism.

Prohibition for the tribes of the United States was a constant state for over a century. In Oregon the initiation of the treaties and the tribal removals to the reservations in 1856 caused the federal government to impose laws and rules against the sale of alcohol to the Indian people on the reservation. In fact the Treaty with the Kalapuya etc. states

“In order to prevent the evils of intemperance among said Indians, it is hereby provided that any one of them who shall drink liquor, or procure it for other Indians to drink, may have his or her proportion of the annuities withheld from him or her for such time as the President may determine.”[1]

The Bureau of Indian Affairs passed policies against American citizens selling alcohol to the Indians and disallowed travel onto the reservation to protect the tribes from those sales. Indians at the reservation were tried and found guilty of crimes of bringing spirits onto the reservation.

For a hundred years it was illegal for tribal people to purchase or have alcohol sold to them. In 1892 the United States Congress passed legislation making it illegal for the sale of “liquors of whatever kind on Indian reservations.”[i] Thereafter similar bills were updated and passed in 1897, 1906, 1907, 1908, 1909, 1910. In 1924 the United States Congress passed the Native American Citizenship Act making all Indian people within the United States dual citizens, of their tribal nations and of the United States. Previously, only those Indians that had served in the military on behalf of the United States in wars had gained citizenship. But in many states there remained laws on the books that disallowed the sale of alcohol to Indians as a class.

[i] Act of Congress Approve July 23, 1892, sec. 2139.

[1] Article 7, Treaty with the Kalapuya etc. 1855.

The rest of the article is at: http://www.oregonbeergrowler.com/july-2012.html

Also see: http://www.grandronde.org/news/articles/still-life–lewis-discusses-tribal-prohibition/

 

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