Oglala Sioux Tribe delays vote on alcohol

By JOMAY STEEN / LINCOLN JOURNAL STAR / January 22, 2004

PORCUPINE, S.D. – It’s still dry on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

The Oglala Sioux Tribe adjourned from its regular session Thursday without voting on a proposed resolution on whether to legalize alcohol on the reservation.

One of the council’s strongest advocates of the impending resolution, Garry Janis, did not attend Thursday’s session because his father had died the previous evening.

Out of sympathy for the Janis family, tribal council members moved to adjourn the meeting in Porcupine early and return to Pine Ridge’s council chambers to address tribal business.

“We can’t hold an executive meeting while the regular council is in session,” President John Steele said.

The council will meet next the week of Feb. 2.

Since last month, the tribal council has been considering the alcohol resolution. It was tabled until this week’s session, allowing representatives to go back into their districts and meet with their constituents.

If approved by the council, the question to legalize alcohol sales would be put to a reservation-wide vote.

On Wednesday, the resolution came to the council floor at its meeting in Porcupine. As Janis was reading the agenda item, he noticed that the language was incorrect and asked that it be redrafted as a referendum vote rather than an ordinance.

The council sent the item back to the tribal lawyer and had expected to vote on the matter Thursday morning.

The Pine Ridge District that Janis represents supported the move to bring alcohol onto the reservation.

“One way or another, we are going to find a way to legalize it,” he had said.

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