Pine Ridge blockade planned to nab bootleggers
Duane Martin Sr. plans another blockade of Whiteclay, Neb.
Published Sunday May 13, 2007
BY CARSON WALKER
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
PINE RIDGE — Two women are scheduled to be sentenced Monday for bootlegging on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation as another road blockade is being planned to stop the influx of alcohol to the dry reservation.
………… PHOTO CAPTION:
Law enforcement officers from the Nebraska State Patrol, Sheridan County, Neb., and the Oglala Sioux Tribal Police department watch as shoppers emerge June 26, 2006, from a store in Whiteclay, Neb., ahead of a planned beer blockade protest announced by American Indian activists. Duane Martin Sr., leader of a traditional Oglala Lakota group, said he’s planning another blockade next month to curb illegal alcohol sales. (Photo by Nati Harnik, The Associated Press)
Louise Jumping Eagle of Pine Ridge and Juanita Jumping Eagle of Manderson pleaded guilty to the charge for selling vodka to a woman.
Each faces up to five years in prison at their sentencing in U.S. District Court in Rapid City.
Marty Jackley, U.S. attorney for South Dakota, could not speak about the case but said his office is increasingly prosecuting a statute already on the books.
The federal bootlegging law, dispensing intoxicants in Indian Country, allows prosecutors to charge offenders only if there’s a tribal ordinance that bans alcohol.
“You’re only going to see this on Pine Ridge,” he said. “If the tribe allows alcohol, then the federal statute does not kick in.”
Jackley said he has stepped up enforcement because of requests from elders and tribal leaders concerned about chronic alcoholism.
At the same time, Duane Martin Sr., leader of a traditional Oglala Lakota group, said he’s planning another blockade this summer to curb illegal alcohol sales.
This time Martin, of the Strong Heart Civil Rights Movement, said he’ll be ready to be handcuffed and taken to jail.
“I want them to arrest me because then we have a legitimate case in court that gives us the exposure that there is this problem out there,” he said. “They’re going to come at me saying I violated something. No, I’m preventing something.”
Alcohol is barred from the 5,000-square-mile reservation that’s home to more than 15,000 Oglala Sioux. The reservation has one of the nation’s highest alcoholism-related mortality rates.
Martin’s ire is directed at four stores in Whiteclay, Neb., just outside the reservation border. The stores sell an estimated 4 million of cans of alcohol annually, most of it to reservation residents.
The stores have been a source of tension for years, and tribal members have tried to stop the alcohol sales through the courts, the county and the state licensing board.
Last June 28, actor and activist Russell Means, Martin and about a dozen others tried to stop vehicles from Whiteclay headed to Pine Ridge.
Their intent was to confiscate any booze. But they abandoned the plan after tribal Police Chief James Twiss agreed to work with them to find some way to ease the bootlegging problem.
Twiss did not answer telephone calls seeking comment about this year’s blockade, which is planned again for June 28.
Last year on the Nebraska-South Dakota state line, Twiss said the roadblock was illegal. He acknowledged police have not done enough to go after bootleggers who buy large quantities of beer in Whiteclay and then distribute it on the reservation.
But Twiss, who grew up on the reservation, said his department doesn’t have the money or manpower to do more.
Martin said treaty law trumps tribal and federal law, and he has the blessing of Oliver Red Cloud, chief of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, to carry out the blockade.
Mark Vasina with Nebraskans for Peace said drastic actions are a “moral necessity” because his state condones law breaking.
“Those illegal activities include sales to minors, beer in exchange for sex and knowing sales to bootleggers who supply the Pine Ridge,” he said.