There is more to Whiteclay than beer and politicsBy Ivan Star Comes Out
Native Sun News Today Columnist
nativesunnews.today The name Makasan (maka-earth; san-white) is indigenous in origin and very connected to nature. The modern English name of Whiteclay (Nebraska), although translated from the Lakota language, has no relevance to nature. Contrarily, the Whiteclay name has always been associated with alcohol and is a reminder of the government’s systematic appropriation of original treaty lands. Since the Fort Laramie treaties (1851 and 1868) were signed and ratified by Congress, land has been an issue. U. S. government was always taking it from the Oceti Sakowin (Seven Council Fires). Congress systematically and deceitfully reduced the huge treaty-established territory (Lakota Tamakoce, Land of the Lakota) to five tiny reservations in western South Dakota. The “Sioux” reservations in western South Dakota are what remain of the once vast Great Sioux Reservation established in 1851. It encompassed parts of five present-day states, South and North Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming, and Montana. As an older person, I can still recall my late elders speaking of this, not in a spirited fervor but from a disheartened demeanor. In 1861, Congress established the Territory of Dakota as an organized unincorporated territory which included North and South Dakota. According to law, this is an area controlled by the U. S. but is not a part of the U. S. A peace treaty was enacted in 1868 which greatly reduced the land base to the western half of South Dakota. The Dawes Act of 1887 was enacted to supposedly “lift the Native Americans out of poverty, stimulate assimilation of them into mainstream American society and to transfer lands under Indian control to white settlers.” However, the only thing this federal law did was to further reduce the Great Sioux Reservation in violation of the treaties since it was done without consulting the “Indians.” A census was taken of the people residing in the area and given an enrollment number. At the same time, the treaty territory was surveyed and split up into plots and “granted” to individual “Indians.”
Every head-of-household received a “grant” of 160 acres of their own land. A single person or orphan over 18 years of age was “granted” 80 acres and persons under the age of 18 were “granted” 40 acres. I believe the government officials knew that there would not be enough “Indians” to allot the entire 1868 treaty territory in western South Dakota. In 1889, the “excess” lands within the Dakota Territory was taken, split, and admitted to the Union as South and North Dakota. It should not be a complete surprise to anyone that the rest of the treaty territory was very quickly turned into two states, North and South Dakota. The Pine Ridge Reservation was established at the same time, which included what is called the Whiteclay Extension in 1889. Disregarding my ancestors as intelligent humans and eventually excluding them from society gave me purpose and a solid foundation for my personal Studying American history. Now, I bring your attention to Whiteclay, Nebraska, where four small businesses sold 3 million cans of beer (in one year) mostly to the residents of the Pine Ridge Reservation. Along with the systematic legislative appropriation of treaty lands, man-made alcohol became a “partner in crime.” White men interested in selling whiskey to the “Indians” set up shop near the reservation at a place they renamed White Clay, a mere two miles south of federal government headquarters, the Pine Ridge Agency.