Breaking Bad or Already Broken? Drug Crime on the Rez Is All Too Real
By Walter Lamar
From the very first episode, and periodically throughout the series, the remote To'hajiilee lands have been the setting for drug manufacture, murders, and concealing evidence. To'hajiilee is a non-contiguous section of the Navajo Nation lying in parts of three New Mexico counties, about 32 miles west of Albuquerque. Despite its proximity to an urban area, To'hajiilee feels isolated and remote. A tangle of secondary roads, many both unmarked and unpaved, crisscross the reservation's 121 square miles. With only 2000 residents, you may go miles without seeing a soul. In "Breaking Bad," the series of crimes committed on these tribal lands (theft, murder, extortion, drug manufacture and distribution, assault and much else), set the stage for what promises to be a violent and action-packed series finale.
Even if crimes on the rez happen exactly as depicted in Breaking Bad, that isn't the whole story. As with recent Lakota documentaries, the question is whether the series shows a range of tribal circumstances, both good and bad. Any show that highlights the bad and ignores the good is stereotypical even if it's technically accurate.
For more on the subject, see To'hajiilee in Breaking Bad.