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Gallup New Mexico: On the Road to Recovery (From Case Histories in Alcohol Policy, P 143-168, 2000, Joel Streicker, ed. -- See NCJ-193674)

NCJ Number
Patricia Guthrie
Date Published
October 2000
26 pages
This chapter presents Gallup, New Mexico’s decade of change, through a variety of initiatives, attempting to curb prior decades of alcohol problems surrounding McKinley County and affecting the Navajo Nation.
In the 1970's and 1980's, McKinley County in Gallup, New Mexico was known as the Indian capital of the world, comprised of mainly Navajo reservations. Most of the reservations were dry. However, in the United States, McKinley County was known for alcohol-related mortality, topped the list of per-capita deaths by chronic alcoholism, and had alcohol-related homicides and suicides that were three times the U.S. rate. The Indians from the reservations would go to Gallup to buy alcohol resulting in a public intoxication problem of immense proportions. In addition other alcohol-related problems came to the forefront such as drunk driving injuries and deaths and cirrohosis. Shortly after the death of a 3-month old baby by a drunk driver, a coalition of citizens marched from Gallup to Santa Fe requesting lawmakers to allow McKinley County a referendum vote on liquor excise tax and closing drive-up liquor windows. The citizen coalition founded by the New Mexico Council of Governments (COG) helped Gallup’s progress continue. Gallup was one of many communities chosen nationwide to develop strategies to reduce substance abuse. This coalition helped convince voters to approve the referendum. The legislation passed in March 1989 and became effective in January 1990. In 1992, Gallup’s Na’nizhoozhi Alcohol Crisis Center replaced the protective custody drink tanks previously used for so many years and by 1998, the Center had recorded 47 percent fewer protective custody admissions than the average in the 1980's.