Survey of American Indian alcohol statutes, 1975-2006: Evolving needs and future opportunities for tribal health

Anne E. Kovas, Bentson H. McFarland, Michael G. Landen, Adriana L. Lopez, Philip A. May

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Objective: American Indians and Alaska Natives have the nation's highest morbidity and mortality owing to alcohol but also have opportunities to employ policies that could reduce the harmful effects of drinking. As sovereign nations, federally recognized tribes can adopt policies that are highly likely to have a beneficial impact on alcohol problems. The most recently published nationwide research on American Indian alcohol policies (conducted some 30 years ago) suggested that tribal policies may help minimize adverse consequences related to drinking. However, much has changed in Indian country during the last few decades, including redefinitions of relationships among tribes, states, and the federal government; recognition of tribes not previously acknowledged by federal authorities; and the advent of gaming and casinos. These developments raise numerous questions regarding the adoption and implementation of policies pertaining to alcohol. Method: This project used the Federal Register to catalog alcohol statutes adopted by the 334 federally recognized tribes in the lower 48 states between 1975 and 2006. Tribes that do not have an alcohol policy have, by default, retained federal prohibition. Results: During the 30-year study period, the percentage of tribes with statutes that permit alcohol increased from 29.2% to 63.5%. Later policies showed increases in complexity, such as tribal licensing requirements and facility restrictions to accompany increases in gaming and tourism. Conclusions: These data are highly relevant to Native decision makers as they attempt to develop and implement policies that will minimize the harmful effects of alcohol among indigenous peoples.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)183-191
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2008
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'Survey of American Indian alcohol statutes, 1975-2006: Evolving needs and future opportunities for tribal health'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this