Activists praise Whiteclay alcohol checkpoint (with audio)

Published Wednesday July 1, 2009
BY JOHN AXTELL
KQSK 97.5 FM (Double Q Country Radio) / Chadron, Neb.

The anti-alcohol activists who organized today’s alcohol blockade at the Nebraska-South Dakota state line north of Whiteclay think it may have renewed efforts to halt alcohol sales in the unicorporated border community.

Officially an alcohol checkpoint, the blockade saw members of the Oglala Sioux Tribe Department of Public Safety spend several hours checking vehicles coming onto the Pine Ridge Reservation from Whiteclay for alcohol.

(click to listen/download audio)

Duane Martin of Cante Tenza (the Strong Heart Civil Rights Movement) says the cooperation between activists and the tribal police was inspiring.

He says Police Chief Everett Little White Man, Captain Ron Duke, and others with the tribe put forth an “astonishing” effort for the alcohol checkpoint.

Martin was also gratified by the response the alcohol checkpoint and crackdown on liquor coming on the reservation got from the public.

He was especially pleased with the number drivers who offered encouragement, with several saying the checkpoint should be a weekly event.

The start shortly before 11 a-m was preceded by a Native American ceremony that included prayers and the ceremonial smoking of a pipe. About a dozen activists and roughly the same number of tribal officers were on hand.

Among the activists was former Nebraska Indian Commission member Frank LaMere of Omaha, a member of the Winnebago tribe.

LaMere says those battling to end alcohol sales in Whiteclay have always been misunderstood, but he saw…maybe for the first time…”great understanding” Wednesday at the checkpoint
  
Blockade organizers failed to reach an agreement with law enforcement the first year and several were ticketed. Cooperation was better last year, but this year saw the two sides work closely in setting things up.

LaMere says he felt energized by the “collaboration” with the tribal police and what he calls the “great energy, resolve, commitment, and real cooperation” that were present.

LaMere says “things must change, things will change” at Whiteclay…adding that even if it takes another 10 years, he’s ready.”

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