Meth, by many accounts is running rampant on the Pine Ridge Reservation.
In this story, we look at "Why": "Why" has this dangerous drug gained such a foot hold there?
After multiple interviews we've come up with 5 answers, in no particular order, to the question: "Why?" in part 2 of our special report "Life or Meth: Battle for Pine Ridge".
A single mother known as 'Mama Julz' is one of the biggest crusaders against Meth on Pine Ridge. She, like all of us, trying to understand, how things got so bad.
Julie Richards, known as 'Mama Julz' says, "Meth is a evil spirit. It's a brother to the suicide spirit and the alcohol. They're all evil spirits that want to consume our kids, they want to take our kids from us and so it's up to us to not let that happen, as adults."
Jerica Dreamer, is one of Mama Julz daughters and says she herself is a former meth user.
Jerica Dreamer, admitted former meth user says, "We are in poverty so a lot of people don't know how to deal with it so they turn to this drug to, to cope with things or how to deal with stress or whatever they're going through."
At the Correctional Facility in Pine Ridge, an admitted meth user, echoes those same thoughts.
'Laura', admitted meth user says, "There's a lot of suicide. There's a lot of alcoholism. There's a lot of poverty and those are probably the 3 main reasons why I would think someone would turn to Meth."
For their safety, we agreed to blur inmate's faces and change their names.
Answer number one to the question 'why': living conditions on Pine Ridge.
Answer number 2, a shortage of law enforcement on the reservation.
According to Tribal Police, they're funded for 44 officers but right now have only approximately 30, nowhere near what they say they need.
Lt. Leonard Her Many Horses says, "Anyway we need atleast 120 officers to actually patrol the reservation."
'Mama Julz' started the grassroots group, Mothers against Meth Alliance, funded only by private donations, not the government nor the tribe...and fueled by her passion.
Julie Richards, known as "Mama Julz" says, "I started publicly shaming the meth dealers and I got threatened. I got a gun held to my head. I get my windows broken out constantly."
Steve: So she says that is something, she no longer does.
US Attorney for South Dakota Randy Seiler, speaking only in general terms, not specifically about Pine Ridge, says this:
US Attorney for South Dakota Randy Seiler says, "Among the career drug dealers if you will, that we see out there, Meth distributors are the most violent, the most erratic, the most paranoid and the most likely to resort to violence and have a substantial firearms arsenal at their disposal."
You can add intimidation as reason number 3 for why meth runs rampant here. And number 4, it appears possible, in these parts, that meth is becoming more socially acceptable.
'Calvin, an admitted meth and heroin user says, "People used to get mad at you if you did it, today people encourage each other, be like try to make you imagine how it felt."
Becky, admitted meth addict says, "Some people think it's cool to be a meth user when really it's embarrassing."
'Mama Julz' says, "This is cedar that I burn, but what we do is smudge. It keeps the bad spirits away. That's our medicine and that's what protects us."
Finally with widespread poverty here, we need to add affordability as answer #5 to the question of why meth appears to be out of control here. Word is, the going rate is just twenty bucks for a tiny little packet, enough to get you high.
In Part 3, the most important part of all: some "solutions", to the epidemic. Folks on Pine Ridge say they need help fighting this battle.
We'll hear what kind of help they need, as we wrap up our special report, "Life or Meth: Battle for Pine Ridge".