Oglala Sioux Bring Lawsuit Against Neb Town

I came across 'the Whiteclay situation' while volunteering with Re-Member at the Pine Ridge Reservation last April.

From the Rapid City Journal, Feb 9th, 2012:

LINCOLN, Neb. -- The Oglala Sioux Tribe of South Dakota is suing the owners of four beer stores in Whiteclay, plus the beer distributors and manufacturers serving those stores.

The tribe's lawsuit, filed Thursday in the U.S. District Court of Nebraska, lists more than a dozen defendants, including beer manufacturers Anheuser-Busch and Miller Brewing Co. The 10-page lawsuit alleges the beer distributors and manufacturers knowingly provided alcohol to the four beer stores, which, in turn, sold alcohol to residents of South Dakota's Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, where alcohol is banned.

The reservation at Pine Ridge is dry--no alcohol allowed. This is primarily to combat the rampant alcoholism that has come hand-in-hand with the horrifying levels of poverty on the Res--we're talking about 85-90% unemployment, and an 80% alcoholism rate.

Whiteclay, Nebraska is a small town situation just across the boarder from Pine Ridge. Literally just across the border--250 feet from the Reservation border.

  • Whiteclay has a population of 14.
  • Whiteclay has four liquor stores.
  • Those four liquor stores, according to the lawsuit, sold more than 5 millions cans of beer in 2010.
  • Aside from the private homes of those 14 residents, there is no place one can legally drink in Whiteclay.

Whiteclay, one might think, is a town that by all appearances exists to sell alcohol to the people of Pine Ridge.

The suit also alleges that the 4 liquor stores accepted food vouchers, pornography, and sex in return for alcohol.

You can read more about the story here, here, and here. You can read more about the history of the relationship between Pine Ridge and Whiteclay here.