Lakota groups ready for White Clay alcohol blockade



WHAT: December 30th Alcohol Blockade of White Clay, Nebraska. Strong Heart asks state and federal legislative officials to send letters of support to the Lakota warrior societies and groups that are trying to save the future generations from alcohol and drugs. Strong Heart also asks other Native nations to take a similar stand in their communities.

WHO: Cante Tenza Okolakiciye, known as the Strong Heart Warrior Society of the Lakota Nation, with support from the Winyan-Taomniciye Okolakiciye Grandmother Society; Winyan Ohitika Okilakiciye Grandmother Society; Defenders of the Black Hills; United Urban Warrior Society; and, the Oglala Sioux Public Safety Highway Division.

WHEN: Friday, December 30th from 10:00AM to 11:00PM

WHY: The Grandmother societies in Pine Ridge Reservation asked Strong Heart to stop the illegal flow of alcohol into the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation on the Friday before New Years- one of the busiest days for alcohol sales in the border town of White Clay, Nebraska. The Strong Heart Warrior Society has taken a zero tolerance stand against alcohol bootleggers, drug dealers, and corrupt tribal officials who are complicit in the continued destruction of the Lakota people and who prevent a healthy Lakota nation from rising. This zero tolerance ban is defined in Oglala Sioux Tribal Ordinance 88.01.

RELEASE TEXT: Pine Ridge, South Dakota – Following in the footsteps of honored Lakota warriors Chief Big Foot, Crazy Horse, and Rain in the Face, modern day warriors are acting to protect their Lakota people from the ravages of colonial society that take the form of alcohol and drugs. 2011 marks the eleventh annual White Clay Alcohol Blockade that was sparked by the deaths of Ron Hard Heart and Wally Black Elk Jr..

This is the second consecutive blockade held during the hard months of winter that activists say demonstrates a level of commitment needed to end the alcohol epidemic. Last year’s temperature during the New Year’s eve blockade was zero degrees.

For the 2011 blockade, the Strong Heart Warrior Society is also asking for letters of support from local, state and federal officials recognizing the efforts made by Strong Heart and their allies to save the future generations from alcohol and drugs. Strong Heart is also asking other Native nations to act to protect their people as well.

“We are asking other nations to take the same stand – the Northern Cheyenne, Northern Arapaho, Navajo, Mescalero Apache, Chumash, Six Nations of the Iroquois, and others to support your relatives in the north,” said Canupa Gluha Mani (Duane Martin Sr.), headsman of Strong Heart. “We are trying to implement change to save a people being pushed towards extinction.”

Last year, Oglala Sioux Tribe (OST) Public Safety officers assisted Strong Heart by pulling over vehicles identified as carrying alcohol before it could be resold and distributed within the dry reservation. Over 225 people were arrested. But the OST has not always been an ally and corrupt officials within OST Government have often pitted tribal police against the traditional warrior society and other activists. But OST Public Safety says they will be there in support again this year.

“The first blockade we did four or five years ago, law enforcement fought us tooth and nail,” explained Earl Denny (Bad River Ojibwa/ Dakota), Strong Heart member and a seventeen-year veteran of law enforcement. On a daily basis Denny has witnessed police stop native people for no reason while they let other cars drive by. “Its my earnest prayer that one day law enforcement will join us. The grandmothers asked us to do it [the blockade] and its an honor to protect the people.”

While blockade support from both the OST government and Federal agencies has been tenuous, the fight to stop illegal alcohol sales in White Clay has broad support from numerous Lakota community groups as well as Winnebago activist Frank LaMere and non-natives like Nebraskans for Peace. Martin is quick to praise LaMere and Nebraskans for Peace for taking the issue to Nebraska legislators and officials.

“For Natives, alcohol is your next door neighbor, meth is a part of your family, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) will not lift a finger to stop it,” shared Martin. “It’s the same in Pine Ridge, Wind River, Lame Deer, Montana and the nation’s other reservations.

This is also the fourth anniversary of Strong Heart’s unilateral withdraw from the Lakota treaties with the United States Government. Since 2007, many traditional elders and others have joined the Lakota independence movement due to rampant corruption and racist action against traditional and full-blooded Lakota by the BIA installed OST Government.

“Sovereignty can put an end to alcohol and drugs,” Martin added. “In order to be sovereign, you have to act sovereign which is in the actions – the doing – and that includes being alcohol and drug free.”

Strong Heart is sending a strong message to other Native nations that drugs and alcohol are part of the colonial policies that are attacking Native people. Martin points out that none of the ancient warriors, so honored by their nations, stopped to take a shot of alcohol or smoke meth before going into battle.

Denny said, “We are tired of seeing our children go hungry and tired of seeing our grandmas go without because they give their money to family who go out and buy alcohol and drugs.”

With alcoholism affecting eight in ten families on Pine Ridge, epidemic levels of teen suicide, and the loss of fluent Lakota language speakers, the situation must change for the Lakota to restore their communities and culture.

“We want the alcohol sales to end in White Clay once and for all so we can do the positive things for our Lakota people,” Martin said. “We don’t want to keep repeating the same history over and over.”

Cante Tenza Okolakiciye – Strong Heart Warrior Society
Free & Independent Lakota Nation
Box 512, Hill City, South Dakota 57745 |

CONTACT: Duane Martin Sr. at 605-517-1547

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