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Native Sun News Today Editorial: Shutting down Whiteclay liquor stores won't address our addictions

Filed Under: Opinion
More on: border towns, liquor, native sun news, north dakota, south dakota, whiteclay

Whiteclay is just the tip of the iceberg

Whiteclay is just the tip of the iceberg
By Native Sun News Today Editorial Board

For years we have written about the news organizations that send their reporters to do news stories about the Pine Ridge Reservation. One of their obligatory stops is in Whiteclay, Nebraska.

It the minds of these green reporters Whiteclay is synonymous with Pine Ridge; you can’t have one without the other, kind of like love and marriage. This sojourn to Whiteclay becomes the major part of their news stories to the detriment of all others.

Do they stop and visit any of the campuses of the Oglala Lakota College? Do they seek out those hardworking, but underfunded individuals and groups fighting so hard to combat the effects of alcoholism and drug abuse? The answer to these questions is a big, fat NO!

The latest group calling themselves Lakota Hope has started a fund raising campaign to raise $6.3 million dollars to buy out the four stores selling alcohol in Whiteclay. Say what?

Are they then going to buy out all of the liquor stores in Rushville, Gordon and Chadron, Nebraska? Guess what folks; the Pine Ridge Reservation, Oglala Lakota County, is already a dry county and reservation. The sale of alcoholic beverages is forbidden just like the sale of drugs is forbidden and yet we have “tona” bootleggers and drug sellers doing big business on Pine Ridge. Everybody including the police know where the bootleggers are located, but they stay in business nonetheless. Are the folks from Lakota Hope going to buy out all of the bootleggers?

How about if these good-hearted folks raise the money to build a state-of-the-art drug and treatment center in Pine Ridge Village? We have editorialized time and time again that getting rid of the liquor stores in Whiteclay is not going to solve the problem. The problem is in the addiction to alcohol and drugs and the reasons run deep and historical. Cure the illness and you cure the problem and in the interim you save many lives, you stop child and spousal abuse, and you help bring an end to the unending poverty that is the bane of the Pine Ridge Reservation.

The tribal government in collusion with the Indian Health Service and other branches of the federal government has for years had the opportunity to build a treatment center, but instead has concentrated on the liquor stores in Whiteclay. The sales of beer in Whiteclay would dry up completely if there was no customers to buy it. And if the Lakota people stop drinking beer the stores would go broke.

This is not a problem that has to be analyzed by a rocket scientist. It is a simple solution but one that would require the combined efforts of I.H.S, the federal government and the Oglala Sioux Tribe to solve.

The dreadful impact of drugs and alcohol is not restricted to the falling down drunks you see on the main street of Whiteclay but instead is evident throughout the tribal government, the BIA and even the Indian Health Service. It is all too common to too many Lakota people and it slowly destroying the traditions and culture of the Lakota people. Lakota Hope, reroute your thinking and stop the epidemic before it crosses the border from Pine Ridge to Nebraska.

Many years ago a young Lakota girl named SuAnne Big Crow had a dream of a “Happy Town” on the Pine Ridge Reservation: What ever happened to that dream?

For more news and opinion visit the Native Sun News Today website: Whiteclay is just the tip of the iceberg

(The Editorial Board can be reached at

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