Open Letter to the Lakota Nation

Dated June 9, 2005

It has been six years since discussions first began in the Nebraska Legislature regarding the ongoing problems created by alcohol sales and consumption of alcohol in Whiteclay, Nebraska. During this time, a number of Nebraska state senators have traveled to the Pine Ridge Reservation and the tiny border town of Whiteclay to witness firsthand the social and economic devastation caused by alcohol. Hearings have been held in Sheridan County and in Nebraska’s capital city of Lincoln. Numerous legislative proposals have been discussed, but efforts to shape a legislative response in Nebraska have so far remained unsuccessful.

Individuals who purchase and consume the alcohol sold in Whiteclay must shoulder responsibility for their personal actions. We also recognize the State of Nebraska’s contribution to the misery caused in Whiteclay by its licensing of alcohol sales within 200 feet of a reservation which allows neither the sale nor consumption of alcoholic beverages upon its lands. Furthermore, as Nebraska public officials, we recognize the need for an effective state-level public policy component to any solution if the problems posed by alcohol sales in Whiteclay are ever to be successfully addressed.

The money appropriated by the Nebraska Legislature this past session for undercover compliance checks by the State Patrol in Whiteclay is a good start, adding to federal money recently appropriated to fund Oglala tribal law enforcement in Whiteclay. As policy-makers we recognize the need for greater efforts by Nebraska to stop the loss of lives and devastation occurring among our neighbors at Pine Ridge linked to alcohol sales in Whiteclay.

[signed]

Senator Ray Aguilar (District #35)
Senator Chris Beutler (District #28)
Senator Ernie Chambers (District #11)
Senator Matt Connealy (District #16)
Senator Abbie Cornett (District #45)
Senator Mike Friend (District #10)
Senator Gwen Howard (District #9)
Senator Lowen Kruse (District #13)
Senator David Landis (District #46)
Senator Don Preister (District #5)
Senator Marian Price (District #26)
Senator DiAnna Schimek (District #27)
Senator John Synowiecki (District #7)
Senator Nancy Thompson (District #14)
Senator Roger Wehrbein (District #2)

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