Tribe sets up Whiteclay alcohol blockade

Published Friday July 2, 2010

Oglala Sioux Tribe police officers set up alcohol checkpoints outside Whiteclay, Neb., on Thursday and confiscated 52 cases of beer that were being transported to Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, according to a blockade organizer.

“We had a tremendous blockade today,” said anti-alcohol activist Duane Martin Sr., whose Strongheart Civil Rights group has organized the annual event for 11 years [sic; since 2006] with varying degrees of success.

Tribal officers participated in the blockade and Police Chief Everett Little Whiteman said the event took place without any problems. He did not have official numbers late Thursday afternoon of citations issued or alcohol confiscated. Those statistics will be released today, he said.

At the Jumping Eagle Inn, business was slow during the blockade. Jumping Eagle is one of the four Whiteclay beer stores that collectively sold 4.6 million cans of beer in 2009, most of it to residents of the Pine Ridge reservation, where alcohol is prohibited by tribal law.

About 40 people, including children and a Canadian representative from the League of Indigenous Nations, participated in the blockade at the state line between Nebraska and South Dakota to protest the sale of alcohol less than 2 miles [sic] from the reservation border, Martin said.

“You could see cars turning back, looking for another way,” he said. Martin said he opposes legalizing the sale of alcohol on the reservation. “I would be the first one to step up and stop that kind of a movement,” he said. “It’s a new breed of cancer.”

He said he believes the blockades are beginning to yield results by increasing education, awareness and cooperation with law enforcement authorities. “It’s going to continue to get better.”

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