By Alan Neville (American News columnist) / ABERDEEN (SD) NEWS
Whiteclay, Neb., has a population of 14 people. It is in northwest Nebraska, bordering the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, only two miles from the city of Pine Ridge. Whiteclay has four off-sale beer stores that, according to numerous sources, sell approximately 4.5 million cans of beer annually. So who could be buying all that beer?
The Oglala Sioux Tribe has filed a lawsuit against the owners of the four beer stores in Whiteclay in addition to the beer distributors and manufacturers that supply those stores. It is illegal to consume or possess alcohol on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. But the tribe says these stores are undermining that law by providing the alcohol just beyond the border, knowing full well who they are selling it to and where it is going.
One might characterize this as a frivolous lawsuit, wondering “Why don’t the Indians just stop buying beer?” But this simplistic response ignores the reality of the situation on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, as well as the role alcohol has playing in the lives of American Indians for the past 160 years. (more…)