Nebraska, send a signal on Whiteclay

Published Wednesday March 3, 2010

Now is an important time for Nebraska to send the signal — to the federal government, to the tribe, to the State of South Dakota — that Nebraska is willing to move forward if other parties step up, too.

The Nebraska Legislature’s discussion of a Whiteclay bill comes at a time when the Whiteclay topic is being discussed by Nebraska state leaders, by both Nebraska political parties and by private donors in Omaha. Several Nebraska lawmakers worked hard on the issue in recent months.

Judging from the floor debate this week on Whiteclay legislation, Nebraska appears set to hire a grant writer to solicit funds for specific programs to help the Oglala Sioux. That’s a tiny step, but it should be followed by development of specific plans to promote alcoholism treatment and address other needs, in coordination with the other parties mentioned above.

Nebraska has had momentum on this issue in recent months, and to do nothing now would sidetrack a vital opportunity. Such do-nothingism would show disrespect to the Nebraska leaders who have dedicated an enormous amount of energy on this issue, and it would undermine the work of Nebraskans who are trying to encourage forward thinking on this matter among party activists and private donors.

Instead, Nebraska needs to communicate to all parties that the state is willing to move forward in cooperation.

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