Law | National

Native Sun News: Oglala Sioux Tribe says 'Yes' in alcohol vote

The following story was written and reported by Brandon Ecoffey, Native Sun News Managing Editor. All content © Native Sun News.

Oglalas legalize alcohol
By Brandon Ecoffey
Native Sun News Managing Editor

PINE RIDGE—Yesterday, the citizens of Oglala Sioux Nation said “Yes” to the legalization of alcohol on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. The unofficial results show that the measure was passed by a vote of 1645 for and 1484 against, with several hundred challenge votes.

The vote that allows the Oglala Sioux Tribe to sell alcohol within the borders of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation had dominated discussion amongst tribal members on and off the reservation for months, and captivated both Native and non-native media outlets around the country.

The election itself was threatened around noon, Tuesday, when Councilman Garfield Steele made a motion during a session of the Oglala Sioux Tribal council to stop the vote immediately due to the limited number of polling stations available on the reservation.

The OST election commission had originally planned to place one polling station in each district. In the past, there have been multiple polling stations throughout the reservation’s nine districts. Prior to the council voting down Steel’s motion, Francis Pumpkinseed, the head of the OST election commission, answered questions from the council on the lack of polling places available on the reservation.

Pumpkinseed responded by saying that, “It was mainly a budget issue.”

He said that the original budget for the election had been cut down and that the commission worked with the budget that was approved by the OST executive board. President Brewer and councilman Bernie Shot With Arrow shared a heated exchange about the budget that was allocated for the election and exactly which committee created the budget.

Multiple council members would go on to voice concerns that there was a lack of polling places in each district. The council would pass an emergency resolution allowing for the opening of additional polling sites on the reservation and would also release funding for the establishment of these voting centers.

By 2:00pm, three new polls were opened on the reservation.

Earlier in the day, President Bryan Brewer released a statement on his Facebook page and made an announcement to KILI radio, the Reservation’s only station, expressing his opposition to legalization and the actual vote, further outlining his stance on the Zero Tolerance Camp just outside of Whiteclay, NE.

“When I was sworn in, I took an oath to uphold the law and alcohol is against the law,” said President Brewer.

The OST Election Commission will begin taking steps to certify the results today according to Commissioner Francis Pumpkin Seed.

(Contact Brandon Ecoffey at

Copyright permission by Native Sun News