For almost 150 years, the town of Whiteclay, Nebraska has been the primary source of alcohol for the residents of the Pine Ridge Lakota Sioux Reservation. The reservation has been dry, completely banning the sale of alcohol, since its establishment in the 1870s. The town of Whiteclay quickly sprang up, just a few miles south of the reservation’s border, as a watering hole for thirsty Natives who craved the beer they couldn’t buy in their home territory.


That situations persisted through the entire 20th century. But on May 1 of this year, it all came to an end. The Nebraska Liquor Control Board unanimously voted in April to deny renewal of the licenses that the four beer stores of Whiteclay need to continue to legally sell alcohol. This order went into effect on May 1, when convoys of beer trucks descended on the town, hauling away the shelf-loads of unsold beer that the stores were unable to move prior to the date their license was revoked.


But the store owners have vowed to fight until the bitter end. A lawyer representing the four store owners has filed a petition with the Nebraska Court of Appeals to issue a stay. The state Attorney General filed a counter suit and was able to keep the stores shut, for now. But many experts think that the chances of the stores closing for good are not particularly high. They say that the store owners have a strong claim that the Liquor Board has treated them in an unfair, discriminatory way.


Categories: Native American, Pine Ridge Lakota Sioux Reservation, Whiteclay

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