Oglala Sioux Tribe calls off referendum to legalize sale of liquor

Tribal members of all ages rode horses in protest of a referendum to legalize alcohol on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Photo from Horse Spirit Society / Facebook

The Oglala Sioux Tribe of South Dakota canceled a referendum that could have led to the sale of liquor on the reservation.

The vote was due to take place on Tuesday. But a group called the Horse Spirit Society helped convince the tribal council to pull the plug on Monday.

"OST COUNCIL VOTE 9 YES, 4 NO, 1 ABSTAIN," the group wrote on Facebook after leading a protest ride to council chambers.

In August 2013, tribal members endorsed alcohol sales but the tribe never implemented the results. The council then voted to 10 to 6 in February to authorize the new referendum, The Lakota Times reported.

Traditional leaders and their supporters oppose the sale of liquor, citing the negative impacts on the reservation. Mel Lone Hill filed a lawsuit in tribal court on Monday in hopes of stopping the vote.

"We should no longer question why our children commit suicide at alarming rates or our people turn to alcohol and drugs when our own supposed tribal government labels our elders as criminals and refuses to return the sacred pipe to the Lakota Oyate," the Strong Heart Warriors said in a statement. "The cause is right before our eyes."

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Protesters on horseback halt vote on alcohol sales on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation (The Omaha World-Herald 5/17)

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