Culture Is Prevention—Fort Peck Indian Reservation, Montana
The Fort Peck Indian Reservation is the ninth-largest Indian reservation in the United States and the homeland of the Assiniboine and Sioux tribes. The reservation covers part of four counties and is more than 3,000 square miles. By comparison, Rhode Island is a little more than 1,000 square miles.
In 2008, residents of the six communities within the reservation formed the Community Change Coalition and began collecting local data on underage drinking. In 2010, the coalition hosted Town Hall Meetings in each community to discuss coalition findings and present evidence-based solutions. Tribal elders and community members in attendance strongly asserted that alcohol abuse was not a cultural value and should not be tolerated any longer.
Shortly after these meetings, community members met with the Fort Peck Tribal Executive Board, the law-making body of the reservation. The community members presented their findings and a draft social host ordinance that would hold adults accountable for knowingly providing or allowing a place for youth to consume alcohol. The ordinance also closed a loophole in the tribes’ underage drinking laws, which previously required proof to identify where the alcohol came from in order to prosecute persons for contributing to the delinquency of minors. The ordinance, which the Fort Peck Tribe passed on December 10, 2010, contains community-recommended penalties that are harsher than those of the state and local municipalities. Wolf Point, which has its own incorporated government and ordinances, is the largest town in the reservation. Within 1 week, the Wolf Point City Council had adopted the new social host ordinance.
In 2012, the coalition again hosted Town Hall Meetings in all six communities. The subject of these meetings, which involved local law officers, was enforcement of underage drinking prevention laws.