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Stephanie Woodard: Confessions of a Whiteclay beer customer





"We went to a tribal member who spent years patronizing Whiteclay’s beer stores, but has now sobered up and turned his life around. He asked to remain anonymous, for fear of retribution.

Will the tribe’s lawsuit against the beer makers, distributors and sellers help?

I think it will, because Whiteclay is where a lot of people on Pine Ridge get alcohol. In a few minutes, you can stroll down there from Pine Ridge village, the biggest population center on the reservation, right over the South Dakota-Nebraska line. Sometimes people go several times a day. So if you stop the liquor trade in Whiteclay, you severely limit access to alcohol on Pine Ridge.

Is policing ever effective in Whiteclay?

The tribe doesn’t have jurisdiction, so all you get is an occasional patrol car coming by from the county sheriff in Rushville, Nebraska, 20 miles away. But I’ve watched the law just sit there while people get beaten. At night, you can hang around Whiteclay and watch the fights. There’s all kinds of lawbreaking going on; I observed a young child selling beer behind the counter in one of the stores. The white people of Whiteclay and [surrounding] Sheridan County don’t care about any of this, Nebraska doesn’t care, and the federal government doesn’t care."

Get the Story:
Whiteclay Confessions: An Oglala Exposes Violent, Seamy Effects of Whiteclay’s Liquor Stores (Indian Country Today 6/7)

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