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Lakota Country Times: Activists continue battle to close Whiteclay






A sign at Whiteclay, Nebraska. Photo from Sober Indian, Dangerous Indian / Facebook

Nebraskans fight to close White Clay
By Brandon Ecoffey
Lakota Country Times Editor
www.lakotacountrytimes.com

RAPID CITY – A mixed group of Native and non-Native residents of Nebraska are again calling for the closure of the town of White Clay.

In early February Native American activist and citizen of the Winnebago Sioux nation, Frank Lamere, joined Nora Boesem a resident of the small South Dakotan town of Newell and other activists met with Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts, top aides, legislatures, and the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission to lodge complaint about White Clay.

White Clay is a town located adjacent to the Pine Ridge Reservation just across the South Dakota and Nebraska border. Despite having a population of only 14 people the town has multiple alcohol outlets that sell over 4 million cans of beer each year. The vast majority of money being funneled through Whiteclay comes from the reservation where alcohol is illegal and where alcohol abuse is rampant. Once purchased at Whiteclay the alcohol is then smuggled by residents across the border on to the reservation where it is legally classified as contraband.

Despite knowledge of these acts the state of Nebraska has opted to not take any action against the town amidst pleas from activists, reservation residents, and tribal governmental officials.

The group who met with the commission are advocating for lawmakers and the Governor to stop the sale of alcohol in Whiteclay and to actively enforce the law.

The group spoke to the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission at length about the ongoing problems associated with Whiteclay, Neb.


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Nora Boesem, of Newell, NE, who has taken in over 150 foster children and has adopted twelve special needs children of their own, all affected by Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), drove home the impact that alcohol sales are having on the reservation.

“I come to you because every one of the children in my home has been affected by Whiteclay,” speaking of the effects of FASD.

Other activists in the group stated that one in four on Pine Ridge are estimated to be effected by FASD, saying that it has turned into epidemic proportions since Whiteclay, Neb. started selling alcohol to the residents of Pine Ridge.

John Maisch, former Assistant Attorney General of Oklahoma, said to officials “Fetal alcohol syndrome may just be Nebraska’s number one export.”

The group has planned an educational conference on addiction and FASD, geared towards social workers, teachers, and other community professionals, with continual educational credits (CEUs) in Whiteclay at the Lakota Hope Center on May 19-20.  

LCT will have a detailed story about the conference in the coming weeks. The conference will be open to the media and early-registration tickets are being sold now for anyone in the public that would like to attend.

(Contact Brandon Ecoffey at editor@lakotacountrytimes.com)

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