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Stephanie Woodard: Whiteclay Liquor -- Gold mines in hell

"In Nebraska, some liquor stores sell booze to minors and manage to hang onto their licenses, according to Nebraska Liquor Control Commission data. That’s as long as the stores are doing business in Whiteclay, Nebraska, located about 250 feet south of the Oglala Sioux Tribe’s Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

The reservation, almost all of which lies just over the border in South Dakota, is officially dry, with consumption, possession and sales of alcohol banned. Meanwhile, tribal members, including youngsters caught in a recent police sting, make up almost the entire customer base of Whiteclay’s four liquor stores, which sell the equivalent of 4.9 million cans of beer annually out of ramshackle buildings lining a two-lane prairie road. With no white settlements for miles around, and a population of 14, not counting the drunks passed out in the streets, the town appears to exist primarily to get liquor onto the dry reservation.

Business is brisk in Whiteclay. But some nights are special. “Every year on prom night, you can watch reservation high-school kids in tuxedos and prom dresses pulling up and buying cases of beer,” said a tribal member, who asked not to be identified for fear of retribution. “They’re obviously under 21. I did it myself when I was in high school.” He bought his first beer in Whiteclay at 14, he said."

Get the Story:
Stephanie Woodard: Gold Mines In Hell (100 Reporters 2/21)

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