In May, the Nebraska State Liquor Control Commission took a momentous decision and decided against renewing the liquor licenses of the four beer stores in Whiteclay, Nebraska, which had been selling more than 3.5 million cans of beer annually to the Native American residents of the Pine Ridge Oglala Sioux reservation.

Bob Blatt, the chairman of the Liquor Control Commission, stated unequivocally in an interview, recently, that there was “zero chance” the commission would be reconsidering its decision to deny license renewal to the stores, at least into the foreseeable future. The decision of the commission came after nearly 125 years of uninterrupted alcohol sales to the Native American residents of the Pine Ridge reservation, which has had strict prohibitions of the sale, consumption and purchase of alcohol within its borders since its establishment in the 1870s.

In May of 2017, the Liquor Control Commission finally decided to tackle the problem of Whiteclay providing a glaring loophole for the circumvention of Pine Ridge’s sovereign laws. In a unanimous decision, the board voted not to renew any of the licenses of the four beer stores located in the town, which comprise the entirety of the town’s economic activity. The decision comes after decades of widespread lawlessness, vagrancy and vice has plagued the poorly policed and isolate town, located more than 25 miles from the county seat of Sheridan, Nebraska.

Many activists have hailed the decision as a major victory in the fight against poverty and social ills on the reservation, which has long been one of the nation’s poorest areas.

Categories: Native American, Native American Culture

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