Advocates urge state officials to halt beer sales in Whiteclay - News, Weather and Sports for Lincoln, NE;

Advocates urge state officials to halt beer sales in Whiteclay

Advocates urge state officials to halt beer sales in Whiteclay

Posted By: Nicole Cousins

The unincorporated village of Whiteclay sits on the border of South Dakota. Across that border is the pine ridge Native American Indian reservation, where alcohol is banned.

In Whiteclay, a village of just 12 people, there are four liquor stores.

The entire area is dealing with devastating alcoholism, fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, sex trafficking, domestic violence, poverty and murder.

Now officials here in Nebraska are working to see if they can find a solution.

Right now, many people think the township is at the root of a genocide in the making.

"Silence is the tacit approval of what has been the ongoing killing fields of Whiteclay," Sonny Skyhawk, a member of the Alcohol Justice Board said.

The village sells upwards of 3.5 million cans of beer per year to the people who live there.

Activists say the results are devastating to the community.

"Our tribe decided that we did not want alcohol on our reservation, because we've seen what it does to our people,” Former Ogalala Sioux Tribal President Bryan Brewer said. “The state of Nebraska sells alcohol at our doorstep."

Dozens of people from the area, from other Native American reservations and professionals showed up at the state capitol Tuesday, saying something needs to change.

Many with the theme that Whiteclay should be shut down.

"It's been 112 years since Nebraska has been intentionally poisoning the Lakota through Whiteclay," one resident of the Pine Ridge Reservation said.

But some say, to help those battling alcoholism, simply taking away the source won't solve the problem.

"You can stop the flow of alcohol that's intended for human consumption, and that doesn't correct the matter that an alcoholic wants their fix, we're gonna get it,” Ella Hansen, a recovering alcoholic said.

While the reservation is in south Dakota, the millions of dollars in tax revenue from beer sales go to Nebraska.

But the Nebraska State Patrol has spent hundreds of hours enforcing Whiteclay.

Nearly 500 hours so far this year, for a village of a dozen people.

Now its up to the legislature to decide how responsible Nebraska is, and what exactly needs to be done.

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