Native American Studies Professor Speaks on Pine Ridge Lawsuit

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The head of the Native American Studies program at the University of Nebraska – Omaha does not agree with the lawsuit filed by the Oglala Sioux Tribe against beer makers and distributors.

“I think there are a lot of people inserting themselves in this for the sake, I think, of making themselves look good at the expense of perpetuating a stereotype about not just the Oglala’s but Indians in general that we’re alcoholics and need people to protect us. I wouldn’t have brought it. I think there is a way the Oglala Nation can address this issue by exercising their sovereignty and that would essentially shut down Whiteclay in about two weeks.”

Professor Edouardo Zendejas says this is a tribal issue.

“The tribes can take care of this themselves if they want to.”

Zendejas says others do need to shoulder some of the responsibility including the state of Nebraska.

“Part of the lawsuit that I was reading it was the Oglala Sioux doesn’t have the law enforcement. If the attorney general wants to look at cross-deputization agreements that would allow the Oglala law enforcement to enforce the limited liquor laws and the things associated with that at Whiteclay, I don’t know if they looked into that or not but it is certainly an option that states and tribes have done in the past.”

Zendejas specialty is in law and federal policy and says there is a lot of misunderstanding about treaty laws and obligations made to Native Americans. He says tribes also have their own laws in place.

“In some instances it works and some it doesn’t. Look at our own state and federal governments. Is everything working perfectly? Are some things working good? Yea and that is true with tribal governments as well.”

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