Boycott Bud Announcement Transcripts: Jan. 22 Press Conference

The following is the written transcript from the Creighton Whiteclay Awareness news conference held in Omaha on Jan. 22, 2013, announcing a boycott of Anheuser-Busch products:

Opening
Dave Fuxa
President, Whiteclay Awareness; Creighton University Senior

Good morning.

My name is Dave Fuxa. I am a senior at Creighton and the President of Whiteclay Awareness, a group founded on supporting the indigenous of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Today I am before you to announce our next step.

Student groups at Creighton, University of Nebraska Omaha, University of Nebraska Lincoln, Creighton Prep High School and others are collaborating as advocates for the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. As students, we are motivated by this injustice and the lack of action on the issue. We find it completely unacceptable that such a blatant and ignorant violation of human rights exists, and demand that the people of Pine Ridge be treated with the rights and respect they deserve. Despite our efforts and the efforts of others, no effective changes have been made at Whiteclay or Pine Ridge to date.

We are announcing a national boycott on Anheuser-Busch, with the slogan “Boycott Bud, Support Pine Ridge.” We are asking all boycott participants to refrain from all Anheuser-Busch products that contain the recognizable “Bud”, including Budweiser, Bud Light, Bud Select, Bud Ice, and other “Bud” brand extensions until Anheuser Busch oversees the closing of the four off sale liquor stores in Whiteclay, Nebraska (Arrowhead Inn, Jumping Eagle Inn, D&S Pioneer, and State Line Liquor) and we demand that Anheuser-Busch construct an effective rehabilitation center under the guidance of tribal authorities.

As an organization and as a movement we will seek to grow this boycott until these demands are satisfied.

Anheuser-Busch is the focus of our boycott because 78% of alcohol that is sold at Whiteclay is an Anheuser-Busch product. While other beer companies are stakeholders, none come close to the market domination of Anheuser-Busch. Additionally, Anheuser-Busch is a national brand that has the capability to comply with our demands and ensure residents of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation are treated with dignity and respect.

You may be wondering why university students are actively pursuing justice in a far away community. My answer to you is this: It is everyone’s duty to stand up for injustices in our world today. As Nebraska and United States citizens it is our duty to stand up for the injustices in our community.

Whiteclay is one of those wrongs.

Our announcement today isn’t only demanding an end unjust sales, this is an announcement demanding that human rights no longer be ignored and that we all commit to do what is necessary to provide all those who live in the United States the rights and dignity they deserve. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a national hero we celebrated yesterday, so eloquently put in his Letters from Birmingham Jail, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

While a successful boycott may be measured in the closing down of Whiteclay and the construction of a rehabilitation center, our involvement as students and as citizens will not end until people are treated with dignity and respect.

We stand here today as students and as citizens motivated by Martin Luther King Jr. and the legacy we remember him by. These injustices are not something we can, nor will, ignore. Pine Ridge is part of our community, they are our neighbors, and they are being treated unjustly.

I am going to stand up for Pine Ridge, we are going to stand up for Pine Ridge, and I hope you will stand up for Pine Ridge.

Boycott Bud, Support Pine Ridge.

Whiteclay Background; Personal Testimony
Mary Wade
Vice President, Whiteclay Awareness; Creighton University Junior

My name is Mary Wade. I am a junior at Creighton University and the Vice President of the Whiteclay Awareness Organization at Creighton. The Whiteclay Awareness Student Organization is committed to ending the exploitive sale of alcohol in Whiteclay, Nebraska and fostering a better relationship between Nebraska and the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. As an organization, we strive to understand the issue from our perspective as students and explore possible resolutions.

Whiteclay is an infamous town residing several feet south of the Nebraska/Pine Ridge border. This town has 11 residents and 4 off sale liquor stores which sell the equivalent of almost 12,000 cans of beer every day. While the sale of alcohol in Whiteclay is currently considered legal by the state of Nebraska, in practice the sale is controversial. Most of the alcohol is sold to Native Americans who travel from Pine Ridge to Whiteclay which raises the question of where Native Americans can legally drink alcohol. After purchasing alcohol it is illegally consumed on the streets and surrounding areas of Whiteclay or bootlegged back to Pine Ridge, where possession and consumption of alcohol is illegal. Additionally, alcohol has allegedly been sold to minors, in exchange for food stamps or sex, though no formal charges have been filed.

On a recent visit to Pine Ridge I was able to see first hand the conditions of Whiteclay and Pine Ridge. Even though it was 10 degrees and snowing, there were people on the streets of Whiteclay sipping something from a brown bag. I was able to discuss the reality that faces the residents of Pine Ridge with citizens of the reservation. Poverty, unemployment, and alcohol abuse are a daily reality to many of them. They told me stories of relatives and friends who have fallen into the trap of Whiteclay. Time and time again they reiterated the destruction of alcohol from Whiteclay has on their lives, their families, and their culture.

As students in Nebraska, we are seeking to end this negative relationship with our neighbors in Pine Ridge. By boycotting Bud, we are moving forward in our efforts to improve this relationship and end the destructive alcohol sales in Whiteclay.

Personal Testimony
Lexie LaMere
Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska; Creighton University Junior

Good morning, my name is Lexie LaMere and I am a member of the Winnebago Tribe. First off, I would just like to say thank you for attending and for your support today as we strive to make lives better for our native brothers and sisters. As you’ve heard from those who spoke before me, we come here today to announce a boycott that we hope will bring awareness and an end to the tragedies at Whiteclay.

We do not come to judge lest we be judged or to malign others lest we be marginalized. We come asking others to join us as agents of change, as people who understand that elevating the discussion and putting pressure on Whiteclay will result in lives being saved and children’s futures being secured.

For decades, people have come together time and time again to stop the lawlessness taking place in this Whiteclay. Families have been broken and lives have been lost, because of a failed resolution to this issue. As a child, I remember family trips to western Nebraska and South Dakota in which we would avidly avoid passing through Whiteclay, because as my parents would say, “it wasn’t something for a child to see.” But about 7 years ago it dawned on me, the news shows that talked about the unsolved murders and the troubling sights in Whiteclay was a sad reality that people – mothers, daughters, brothers – witness each and every day.

That’s when I knew I could no longer sit idly by and watch an entire community crumble at the sound of opening a can of Budweiser. Year after year we have not given up hope, even when it seemed like all the odds were against us. So, we stand here before you today as a united front, in hopes you too will stand alongside us, ready and willing to end this battle at Whiteclay.

Boycott Goals
Dan Walsh
Graduate Student, University of Nebraska-Omaha School of Social Work

Good morning. My name is Danny Walsh and I’m a graduate student and the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

The issue of alcohol sales at Whiteclay is multifaceted and therefore must be addressed through many avenues and peoples. The closure of alcohol sales at Whiteclay will serve as a small step.

First and foremost, the Lakota people of Pine Ridge, our brothers and sisters most affected, must be the main agents of change.

Secondly, this boycott, while aimed at eliminating exploitive alcohol sales, also hopes to create space for dialogue between the Lakota and Anheuser-Busch—ultimately leading towards more responsible care for the community. We also hope this boycott will raise awareness in the Omaha community, the Nebraska community, and the national community—that indigenous should not be excluded from conversations about the common good.

We stand here as human beings concerned with the well being of all in our community, we believe everyone should be concerned with this moral issue. We hope to be allies to the Lakota, collaborating for change.

Closing
Cameron Popp
U.N.I.T.E. [University of Nebraska Inter-Tribal Exchange] Representative; University of Nebraska-Lincoln Senior

I feel so blessed to be speaking here today, and am speaking on behalf of U.N.I.T.E., a native student group at UNL. Thank you Dave and Lexie for organizing this, as well as Lexie’s dad, Frank has whose inspiration brings me up here today.

My fondest memory of Frank LaMere was my first memory, when he spoke to my Awareness Workshop class four years ago about the issue of Whiteclay. He came to us with a story more powerful than all the astounding statistics we know about Whiteclay and Pine Ridge Reservation’s living conditions. With great passion and teary eyes he brought the suffering his people into the room that day, reminding all of us of the very real suffering happening every day.

The tragedy that’s been described to you by those before me is not the kind of tragedy we normally respond to. If an atrocity like this happened overnight would it rival Sandy, Katrina, or Haiti? I think it would. With a sluggish economy and food prices on the rise from the drought, this is quickly getting worse. The simplest step is sharing the stories we so easily lend our hearts to which is why we stand here before you today.

I’m standing up for Pine Ridge because there is no excuse for inaction, because I believe we can and will do better. I’m standing up for Pine Ridge because I do not make perfection the enemy of good, this boycott is only a piece of the puzzle. I am still bright with compassion for the very real struggles happening every day in our backyard and I believe in the media’s ability to mobilize empathy where it’s needed.

I ask you to take responsibility in the survival of our neglected and especially in the ethical operations of the country’s most powerful businesses. I ask you to take a personal pledge to refrain from purchasing Anheuser-Busch products and urge the company to set aside a small fraction of their profits as a meaningful acknowledgement of the tragedies they fuel and the sadness they perpetuate. I ask you to make the pledge is you believe we should bring attention to I see no shortage of hope and compassion for those suffering across the country and across the world. For that you can thank Mr. Martin Luther King Jr. whose love of equality still fills the air.

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