Crime Watch: Local activist calls for end to alcohol sales at Whiteclay

By MOLLY MONTAG / SIOUX CITY JOURNAL / May 18, 2012

The New York Times published an opinion piece by local activist Frank LaMere, who had strong words for beer distributor Anheuser-Busch.

LaMere, a Winnebago tribal member, joined the Times’ Nicholas Kristof’s criticism of the beer giant due to alcohol sales in Whiteclay, Neb.

They want to stop the flow of liquor from the tiny village (population about 10) across the border onto the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Alcohol is banned on the reservation, but stores sell an estimated 4 million cans of alcohol each year – mostly to tribal members.

The alcohol sold in Whiteclay is ravaging the reservation and must cease, LaMere wrote in the Times.

“Lakota children are orphaned and struggle through life with the effects of fetal alcohol syndrome,” LaMere wrote his Times piece. “Their fathers, their mothers and their nation slowly bleed to death while officials wring their hands, proclaim that there are no easy answers, and mutter something about legal businesses and capitalism.”

His piece was one of three guest editorials about the issue in the Times’ online Room For Debate.

Click here to read LaMere’s full editorial.

Click here to visit the Times’ Room For Debate page about Whiteclay.

LaMere, of South Sioux City, said Thursday he’s pleased the issue is being discussed, so people can solve the problem.

“The issue is so important and there’s people that care about the issue,” he said. “The discussion just needs to be elevated.”

LaMere has long called for action against the beer sales in Whiteclay.

He was featured in the documentary ‘The Battle for Whiteclay,’ which premiered in Sioux City in 2008. It followed efforts by LaMere and Lakota activists Duane Martin, Sr., and Russell Means to stop alcohol sales in the town.

In 2007, the three men were arrested during an attempted blockade at the Nebraska-South Dakota border. LaMere and eight others were arrested there in 1999 while protesting the alcohol sales and the unsolved murders of two American Indians.

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