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INDIANS WHO LEAVE RESERVATION TO DRINK IMPERILED BY CARS, COLD

Liquor bans on Indian reservations are a double-edged sword, reducing alcohol-related problems on tribal land but endangering Indians who leave to drink, researchers say.

Many Indians are hit by cars or die of exposure as they try to walk back to the reservation while drunk, according to a study in Wednesday's Journal of the American Medical Association.In New Mexico, pedestrian injuries kill American Indians at nearly eight times the rate of other residents, and hypothermia claims them at 30 times the rate of non-Indians, death certificates show.

Nine of 10 American Indians who died from pedestrian injuries or exposure over a 10-year period had been drinking, most heavily, the certificates show.

Tribes should reconsider prohibition, the authors suggested. But they also conceded that lifting liquor bans on reservations would worsen some problems.

The study was headed by Dr. Margaret M. Gallaher of the New Mexico Department of Public Health.

Liquor is prohibited on more than two-thirds of New Mexico's 25 reservations. Sixty-nine percent of the nation's 293 reservations ban alcohol, the study said.