Saving Whiteclay

Topics: Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, Alcoholic beverage, South Dakota Pages: 6 (2401 words) Published: March 2, 2013
Saving Whiteclay

Dude, lets walk to the liquor store and get some beer. The town of Whiteclay borders the Pine Ridge Reservation, and in just walking distance are four local off-sale beer retailers. Whiteclay is known for the huge amount of sale of alcohol. In 2009 between the four liquor stores they have sold approximately 191,649 cases of beer according to the Nebraska Liquor Commission (Nebraska). Frank LaMere (Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska) has been advocating stopping the sale of alcohol in the town of approximately fourteen to twenty-two permanent residents (Battle). In the documentary, The battle for Whiteclay, brings a powerful message regarding the environmental, violation of the liquor laws and other ethical issues. To this present day controversy over these issues has raised the question should the town of Whiteclay be close down? Because of the devastating amount of alcoholism and the known sales to minors and intoxicated people, by closing down Whiteclay would this action save lives of the Oglala Sioux Indians who live on the Pine Ridge Reservation? The three issues regarding Whiteclay locals and the Pine Ridge residents are alcoholism/death, social reasonability and the question should Whiteclay be shut down. What is my position on this issue? That is a very good question. I feel if Whiteclay was to be shut down there’s several businesses and a few residents will need to be relocated and lives will be disrupted. However, that would not solve the issue of drinking on the reservation. The resident of Pine Ridge Reservation who does not follow the liquor laws would make their way to other liquor store to obtain alcohol, so, to have a dry Reservation would not exist. This has become a catch 22 issue. What possible could happen is to change Whiteclay in to a productive town by adding a recycling business and much needed outreach on both side of the boarder of Whiteclay and Pine Ridge Reservation. Having the extra resources and better laws would greatly help Whiteclay. Skid Row on the Prairie, on any given day you can see residents from Pine Ridge sitting on the curbs drinking, passed out in the streets, drunks urinating in the bushes, or walking to and from the reservation to buy alcohol. The town of Whiteclay is dry and dusty, there are local businesses ranging from grocery stores, a post office and a Native Quilting shop where locals from Pine Ridge come to shop. In front of the local businesses customers are bothered by people who are loitering, or panhandling for money to buy more beer. Webster Poor Bear, Indian right activist stated, “Pine Ridge covers two of the poorest counties in the United Sates and two-thirds live under the federal poverty level” ( Battle), and has gone on to state and has the “highest alcohol related deaths in the country” (qtd. in battle). He also stated that the logistic average age for men and women is between fifty-two to eighty-years-old. With the alcohol-addicted residents the life span has become much shorter, with alcohol related deaths, a people passing out on the streets and dying of exposure. Residents would purchase alcohol and resell it on the reservation illegally because alcohol is not allowed on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Jeff Mohr M.S.W and a professor of Social Work, Mohr was a part of a documentary called “Battle for Whiteclay”, stated “Bootlegger’s are known to exchanging beer for sexual favors” (Mohr). Mohr has documented several incidents regarding the main issue of Whiteclay. What keeps them coming back to Whiteclay? It’s not just the beer; it’s also the food that is handed out and other prevision. Mary Garrigan a writer for the Rapid Journal in the article “Whiteclay a village on the edge”, interviewed Pine Ridge resident Norma Blacksmith owner of a quilt shop in Whiteclay, stated she takes a different approach to the addicted street people and said “some of whom are her relatives” (qtd. in Rapid) that bothers her and the consumers of...

Cited: Battle for Whiteclay. Dir. Mark Vasina. Perf Frank Lamere ,Russell Means and Webster Poor Bear. Glass Onion. 2011 Film.
Clark, Vic. “Liquor debate goes to core of town’s ties to reservation.” Rapid City Journal. 17 July 2010.
Web 6 Feb 2013.
Garrigan, Marry. “Whiteclay a village on the edge.” Rapid City Journal. 18 July 2010. Web 6 Feb 2013.
Johansen, Bruce. “Whiteclay, Nebraska:The Town That Booze Built.” Native Americas Journal. 28 Jan 1999. Web 6 Feb 2013.
Mohr, Jeff. M.S.W Associate Professor of Social Work Nebraska Wesleyan University “Whiteclay Study Guide Documentary.”
Moon, Ruth. “More than 100 march, protest Whiteclay liquor sales.” Rapid City Journal. 27 Aug 2012. Web, 6 Feb 2013.
National Indian Law Library. Oglala Sioux Tribe: Law and Order Code, Chapter 9. Web 29 Feb 2012.
Nebraska Liquor Control Commission. Nebraska. Gov. WhiteClay Year End Statistics 2011. Web 16 Feb 2013.
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