Timeline of events at Whiteclay

Published Saturday March 7, 2009
OMAHA WORLD-HERALD

1998 — Activists ask the Nebraska Liquor Commission to shut down four liquor stores in Whiteclay, saying the stores exploit American Indians who live on the nearby Pine Ridge reservation.

1999 — Two Whiteclay street people, Ronald Hard Heart and Wilson Black Elk Jr., are found beaten to death in June. Weeks of protests follow. A grocery store is looted and burned, and protestors clash at the border with Nebraska state troopers.

2000 — The U.S. Civil Rights Commission, after visiting Whiteclay in 1999, issues a report calling the village “a symbol of oppression and exploitation.’’

2001 — Gov. Mike Johanns pledges increased patrols of Whiteclay, but he says as long as liquor stores operate within state law, they have a right to exist. Troopers write dozens of tickets for public intoxication, drinking in public and trespassing. One liquor store is ticketed for a violation.

2004 — A proposed referendum to allow liquor sales on the Pine Ridge reservation is shot down before it can be put on the ballot. A Whiteclay liquor store, the Arrowhead Inn, is closed down by the state, but a judge overturns the decision.

2005 — The Pine Ridge tribal council agrees to accept $100,000 in funding obtained by U.S. Rep. Tom Osborne of Nebraska to cross-train tribal officers to enforce laws in Whiteclay. The deal, pushed by Attorney General Jon Bruning, falls apart when tribal officers can’t pass background checks.

2006 — Protestors try to set up a blockade for alcohol coming from Whiteclay to the reservation in South Dakota, but the plan fails.

2007 — Protestors picket a Scottsbluff beer wholesaler that supplies liquor to Whiteclay. Three protestors arrested at another attempted blockade of Whiteclay.

2008 — A book about Whiteclay, “The Death of Raymond Yellow Thunder,” and film documentary, “The Battle for Whiteclay,” are released.

2009 — Omaha Creighton Prep students plan to ask President Barack Obama to restore an alcohol-free buffer zone around the Pine Ridge reservation that would end liquor sales in Whiteclay. Activists plan rally in June for 10th anniversary of still-unsolved murders.

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