WASHINGTON — Alcoholism is destroying the Navajo Nation and the situation is a "national disgrace," New Mexico's Alcohol Beverage Control director said Friday.
Abe Rodriquez told a congressional panel that when he took over his job 19 months ago, he began looking at the problems centered around Gallup, Farmington and Shiprock--the largest communities where Navajos can buy liquor. Sales are prohibited on the 25,000-square-mile Navajo reservation, the nation's largest, that includes portions of Arizona and Utah.
"I found, if not a national disaster, for sure a national disgrace," he told a House subcommittee on health and the environment. "The Indian population there has been taken over by alcoholism and alcohol abuse.
"I found that on a 13-mile stretch of road in just six months of 1983, there were 43 fatalities--97% of them Navajo," he said.