Published Tuesday September 29, 2009
Whiteclay, Nebraska, population 14 (more or less) has been called the “skid row of the plains” for its four liquor stores, which all do brisk business — approximately 12,000 cans of beer a day. The visitors buying the beer are from South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Indian Reservation — less than 200 feet from the town line — where alcohol is illegal and alcoholism has ravaged the community.
In a New York Times op-ed, former South Dakota Democratic senator James Abourezk recently called for President Obama to restore the town land of Whiteclay to the Oglala Sioux of Pine Ridge, which would effectively render alcohol sales illegal. In the late 1800s, President Chester Arthur, issuing an executive order, created a 50-square-mile buffer zone on the reservation’s southern border, in Nebraska. Its intent was “to prevent renegade whites from selling guns, knives and alcohol to Indians living on the reservation.” Teddy Roosevelt, with the liquor industry in his ear, overturned the order in 1904. (more…)