Long a source of controversy for groups ranging from Native activists to church groups, Whiteclay, Nebraska has finally had its sole industry shuttered. The town had long served as the primary source of alcohol for the residents of the nearby Pine Ridge Lakota Sioux reservation. The entire reservation has banned alcohol sales since the 19th century.
However, the closing of the four beer stores, which collectively sold over 3.5 million cans of beer each year, has left many people with questions as to what will come next. Not everyone was happy with the decision by the Nebraska Liquor Control Board to shut the stores down for good, a decision that was put into effect in late April, when the board declined to renew the licenses of the four stores authorized to operate in the town.
Terry Robbin is the sheriff of Sheridan County, the county in which Whiteclay is located. He has predicted that the closure of the stores will do little but increase the number of miles driven while drunk within his county. Unfortunately, early signs after the closures have borne those predictions out.
The day the stores closed, May 1, a large group of counselors was on scene to help any customers who may have found themselves unable to cope with the sudden removal of their alcohol supply. But the workers found no one there. This was accompanied by a sharp increase in the amount of traffic in the liquor stores of Rushville, Nebraska, located 21 miles south of the Pine Ridge Reservation.
Categories: Native Activist, Native American, Whiteclay