Since the 1870s, the Pine Ridge Oglala Sioux reservation, located at the southern end of South Dakota, has banned the sale, consumption or purchase of alcohol within its borders. But almost immediately after the reservation was first established, the town of Whiteclay, Nebraska, located just over the South Dakota border with Nebraska, opened up for the sole purpose of helping the Native American residents of Pine Ridge to circumvent the ban on alcohol on their reservation.

For years, this glaring loophole in the Pine Ridge ordinances was a blemish on officials in Nebraska. As more and more Pine Ridge Native Americans succumbed to the perils of alcoholism, including suffering from one of the highest incidences of fetal alcohol syndrome anywhere in the United States, activist voices became louder, seeking to end the ability of the four beer stores of Whiteclay to continue peddling their products to the Natives.

Finally, in 2017, after more than 125 years of continuous operations, the stores of Whiteclay were forced to shutter their operations, as the Nevada Liquor Control board decided not to renew their liquor licenses.

But even as the loophole that allows the Native Americans of Pine Ridge easy access to the poison that has proven to be so dangerous to their well being, many officials in neighboring towns are not convinced that the closure of the Whiteclay stores is actually a net benefit.

Chris Heiser, the mayor of Rushville, located 25 miles from Whiteclay, has noted that there has been a considerable increase in both drunk driving arrests and accidents since the closure of the stores.

Categories: Native American, Native American Culture

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