Terry Robbin is the sheriff of Sheridan County, Nebraska. The county is, perhaps, most famous for housing the notorious town of Whiteclay, Nebraska, which has the dubious distinction of being the only incorporated town in America whose sole industry is selling beer. The town of Whiteclay has long been a lightening rod of activists of many stripes due to its four liquor stores, the only businesses in town, being the chief supplier of beer to the residents of the Pine Ridge Oglala Sioux reservation, an Indian reservation that has strictly prohibited alcohol sales since its formation in the 1870s.

The fact that Whiteclay has existed for more than 125 years for the sole purpose of circumventing the well-intentioned prohibition on alcohol throughout the Pine Ridge reservation has been an embarrassment to the state of Nebraska. While there has always been a push of some kind to end the town’s ability to flagrantly circumvent the laws of the neighboring sovereign Oglala Nation, with records of legislative efforts to stem the sale of liquor going back to at least the early 1900s, the movement suddenly picked up a full head of steam in 2016.

By May, the Nevada Liquor Control board had determined that it would not renew the liquor licenses of the four stores that sell beer in the town. While many hailed this as a great victory, there were also skeptics.

Sheriff Robbins, for one, has seen a marked increase in drunk driving arrests and alcohol-related accidents. He believes the shuttering of the stores has just converted the problem into a new form.

Categories: Native American, Native American Culture

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