Protestors continue to rally against alcohol sales in Whiteclay, with the situation escalating last week.
Incidents began on Labor Day when protestors marched into the small town just south of the South Dakota state line.
“That day, basically, they were pretty calm, except they went to some of the beer stores and squirted some substance in to the locks. It appeared to be some kind of glue,” said Sheridan County Sheriff Terry Robbins. Store owners had to replace the locks.
The next day, authorities and protestors confronted each other again during weekly beer deliveries by Budweiser.
The protestors hid behind a building on the South Dakota side of the border until the trucks arrived and then attempted to gain access to the beer stores, engaging in confrontations with authorities, Robbins said. A female individual also allegedly spray painted a Whiteclay building. As authorities tried to arrest her, other protestors began shoving, hitting and spitting on the officers, which included Robbins, one of his deputies and two Nebraska State Patrol troopers. Robbins and the NSP troopers each requested additional help from their respective agencies.
The protestors eventually moved back in to South Dakota. An NSP report indicated that there they set up four cars across the road and refused to allow traffic entry to South Dakota.
The Budweiser delivery was halted Sept. 3, and the trucks told to “back out of town” until the matter was under control, Robbins said. Delivery was never completed that day, but all three distributors that serve the town were able to make deliveries without issue on Thursday. Budweiser also visited Whiteclay again this week without problems.
“The sad part about this is that very few of these people (the protestors) actually live in Shannon County, and very few are tribal members,” Robbins said. Many of the protestors are from other areas of the country, and many do not appear to be Native American, he added.
The Pine Ridge Reservation recently voted to allow alcohol sales on what has traditionally been a dry reservation. The tribal council must still formulate the regulations and policies that will guide alcohol sales and consumption on the reservation. Robbins said he’s visited with tribal members who are for and against allowing alcohol on the reservation.
Oglala Sioux Tribe President Bryan Brewer of South Dakota and Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman had planned for weeks to get together Monday morning to try to address alcohol sales in Whiteclay and alcoholism on the nearby Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.
But the meeting ended after fewer than three minutes, and the governor’s office and Brewer later traded barbs over whose fault that was.
“I feel very bad that I came down here to talk with him for a couple minutes,” Brewer said. “He didn’t want to talk to me.”
The tribal leader said he walked out because Heineman was aggressive and said Brewer violated the governor’s request to meet without media involvement. He said the governor had asked him
to not speak to the media before their meeting.
However, both Brewer and Heineman spoke to reporters in the days and hours leading up to their meeting. Heineman spokeswoman Jen Rae Wang said Brewer was the one who originally had requested a closed meeting with no media present.
“The governor was happy to accommodate that,” she said.
Brewer said the governor was especially angry about a news release that appeared Sunday saying the governor had received $96,000 in contributions from the liquor industry and charged that illegal alcohol activity and bootlegging in Whiteclay have not been stopped because of financial contributions to him and other Nebraska politicians from Anheuser-Busch, distributors and alcohol trade associations.
A spokesman for Alcohol Justice — a California-based, self-described watchdog of the liquor industry — cited the National Institute on Money in State Politics as its source. The institute describes itself as a nonpartisan nonprofit that seeks to reveal the influence of campaign money on politicians.
“He verbally attacked me,” Brewer said. “I didn’t write that article. I don’t know why he’s mad at me.”
Wang said the governor has not been influenced by any campaign contributions from liquor industry representatives.
“That’s absolutely false, and it’s completely inappropriate,” she said.
She said the governor had set aside an hour to spend with Brewer and had invited Lt. Gov. Lavon Heidemann, Nebraska State Patrol Superintendent Col. David Sankey, Chief of Staff Larry Bare and the governor’s policy adviser to attend.
Wang said Brewer made it clear he didn’t plan to stay long and have a serious conversation about the problem of alcoholism on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
At a news conference Monday morning before the meeting, Heineman said the state of Nebraska has no legal way to shut down beer stores in Whiteclay as long as those stores follow the law. And, he said, it is Brewer’s responsibility to address the underlying problem that has led to rampant alcohol sales there.
“As the leader of his tribe, he’s got to put a focus on treatment and education relative to alcohol abuse,” Heineman said.
Brewer refused to take responsibility for his people’s actions, Wang said.
“The governor remained at the table and was hopeful to have an open and honest conversation about some of the difficulties surrounding this issue,” Wang said. “I would just call it an unfortunate situation.”
The Oglala Sioux Tribal Council voted last month to hold a reservation-wide referendum this fall on whether to legalize alcohol on the Pine Ridge. Asked whether he supports that, Heineman declined to offer an opinion.
“I think that’s up to them to decide,” he said.
Brewer said he doesn’t want to see his tribe legalize alcohol but that he would do his best to regulate alcohol sales if tribal members vote yes.
He said he met earlier Monday with Omaha Sen. Ernie Chambers, who offered to assist the Oglala Sioux Tribe address alcohol sales in Whiteclay.
Brewer said he had hoped to talk to Heineman about re-creating an alcohol-free buffer zone south of the reservation that existed for more than 20 years until 1904. He said he also hoped to discuss making Whiteclay a national historic place to honor a massive sun dance that occurred there decades ago. Such a designation could force the beer stores to close, he said.
“I will continue working with the state of Nebraska,” he said. “I’ll refuse to deal with (Heineman) in the future.”
Brewer said he would like to be able to offer more treatment services to tribal members, but the tribe lacks the funding to do so. It has one treatment center with only seven beds, he said.
“I have to come up with the money somehow,” he said. “Our people are dying up there.”
During a news conference outside the State Office Building by activists after the meeting between Heineman and Brewer, Winnebago activist Frank LaMere said the governor clearly failed to show Brewer the respect he deserved as the leader of a sovereign nation.
“President, I apologize for our Nebraska governor,” he said. “I apologize for the way you were treated today.
“That to me is shameful.”
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The Oglala Sioux tribal council voted Tuesday night to allow the tribe’s members to decide whether to legalize alcohol on the tribe’s South Dakota reservation.
“Let’s hear the voice of the people,” said council member Robin Tapio during the council’s meeting in Oglala, S.D.
Tribal President Bryan Brewer said he doesn’t support legalizing alcohol on the reservation, at least until the tribe develops a plan to address the likely increase in crime that would occur after legalization.
“That alcohol that’s coming on the reservation is killing our children, killing our people,” he said.
The vote to allow the tribe’s members to decide whether to legalize alcohol is closely intertwined with efforts to stop the flow of beer from the Nebraska village of Whiteclay, which is about a mile south of Pine Ridge, the tribe’s largest village.
Last year, four beer stores in Whiteclay sold the equivalent of 3.9 million 12-ounce cans of beer, according to the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission.
The tribe’s reservation, about the size of Connecticut, has struggled with high alcoholism rates for generations, though alcohol has been banned there since 1832. The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation makes up all of Shannon County, S.D. — the third poorest county in America, according to the U.S. Census.
Pine Ridge legalized alcohol in 1970 but restored the ban two months later, and an attempt to allow it in 2004 died after a public outcry.
A date for the Oglala Sioux Tribe’s members to decide whether to end the alcohol ban hasn’t been decided.
On Friday night, the tribe also voted to create ports of entry at every entry point onto the reservation, starting with the entry from Whiteclay. The tribe hopes the ports of entry will allow it to stop alcohol importation onto the reservation.
Brewer said he is planning to visit Lincoln soon to talk to Gov. Dave Heineman and other state officials about ways the state of Nebraska can address alcohol sales in Whiteclay. On Tuesday, he told his tribe’s council that he plans to protest Whiteclay alcohol sales on Monday morning and invited council members to join him.
“If we close up Whiteclay, it’s not going to stop the liquor on our reservation,” he said. “But we’re going to send a message to our young people: We do not want this.”
Council member Larry Eagle Bull said he expects crime and substance abuse will spike if alcohol is legalized.
“It’s going to peak but then it’s going to come down once our people get educated about alcohol,” he said. “The people have to have a voice.”
Pine Ridge Liberation Day Event Turns Into Alcohol-Related Showdown in Whiteclay Nebraska, Says Alcohol Justice
PINE RIDGE, S.D., March 1, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Alcohol Justice is reporting that a serious confrontation over illegal alcohol activity occurred last night on the border between Whiteclay Nebraska and the Pine Ridge Native American Reservation in South Dakota.
“We have so many strong sober relatives that the only option is to continue to heal,” stated activist Olowan Martinez. “We no longer hide our spirituality, we no longer walk in shame of who we are. An escape from the slavery of alcohol is now occurring and soon the mind of the Oglala Lakota will also be liberated.”
Eyewitness reports state a Round Dance celebration for Liberation Day 2013 (in recognition of the 1973 Wounded Knee Occupation) turned into a showdown between Nebraska state troopers and Native Oglala Lakota activists working to end destructive alcohol use when Nebraska State troopers walked onto Pine Ridge sovereign land. They warned Bryan Brewer Sr. , Oglala Sioux Tribal President, that if he stepped into Nebraska he would be charged with trespassing.
A state trooper performed an alcohol Breathalyzer test on Whiteclay Nebraska Sheriff Terry Robbins due to his behavior and results were not made public. Over a hundred Oglala Lakota marched into the town of Whiteclay forcing the state troopers to withdraw from the area. Tribal President Bryan Brewer Sr. stated that “…on Friday March 1st, activists will return with five times as many people to shut down Whiteclay.”
25% of Pine Ridge Reservation youth suffer from Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.
2/3 of Pine Ridge Reservation adults suffer from alcoholism.
What: Liberation Day 2013 Rally to end illegal alcohol activity in Whiteclay Nebraska
When: Friday, March 1, 2013
Where: Border of Pine Ridge South Dakota and Whiteclay Nebraska
Who: Representatives from:
Oglala Lakota Nation
Deep Green Resistance
Why: To stop the illegal alcohol activity at Whiteclay, Nebraska such as:
Retailer participation in alcohol smuggling into the Pine Ridge Reservation
Trade of alcohol for sex
Loitering at the premises of alcohol retailers with open containers
The inability of Nebraska Liquor Commission to stop illegal retailer activity