Oglala Sioux Tribe files lawsuit targeting liquor in Whiteclay

The Oglala Sioux Tribe filed a lawsuit in federal court today, aimed at stopping the sale of alcohol in Whiteclay, Nebraska.

Whiteclay lies just outside the border of the Pine Ridge Reservation, where alcohol is banned. The lawsuit alleges that liquor stores and liquor distributors are violating state law by knowingly sell their products to reservation residents.

“The Oglala Sioux Tribe seeks compensation for all of the damages the Lakota people have suffered as a result of illegal alcohol sales,” attorney Tom White said in a press release “The defendants have failed to make reasonable efforts to ensure their products are distributed and sold in obedience to the laws of the State of Nebraska and the Oglala Sioux Tribe.”

According to Mark Vasina, the president of Nebraskans for Peace, a group that has been raising awareness of the issue, four liquor stores in Whiteclay sold 4.9 milion cans of beer in 2010. Only a handful of people live in the town so most of the liquor ends up on the reservation.

“Much of the beer is bootlegged onto the Pine Ridge for resale," Vasina said.

Whiteclay has been blamed for crime, social and other problems on the reservation. In 1999, the bodies of two tribal members were found outside of Whiteclay. The case has never been solved.

"We can now begin to address the terrible harm to the Lakota people caused by Whiteclay alcohol sales,” said vice president Tom Poor Bear, whose brothers were the victims in the 1999 case.

The defendants include four liquor stores in Whiteclay and major liquor distributors like Anheuser-Busch, Miller Brewing Company, Molson Coors Brewing Company, Miller Coors and Pabst Brewing Company.

Documents about the case can be found at

Get the Story:
Oglala Sioux Tribe sues Whiteclay stores, beer makers, distributors (The Lincoln Journal Star 2/9)
Tribe suing beer makers over alcohol problems (AP 2/9)

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