The Pine Ridge Indian reservation is the birthplace of some of the most impressive folklore in Native American history. Home to some of the Lakota Sioux’s greatest heroes, such as Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull, the Pine Ridge reservation has played perhaps a more important role than any other reservation of its kind in shaping the ways in which Native Americans have integrated into American society and become an important part of our history.
But the reservation has also been besieged with problems. Even in its earliest days, in the 1870s, there was a widespread perception that Native Americans were more prone to excessive drinking and alcoholism than other populations. For this reason, it was decided, upon charting Pine Ridge, that the reservation would be forever dry. This strict prohibition on alcohol sales has led to the most determined drinkers on the reservation to seek their supply of alcohol elsewhere.
This phenomenon gave rise to the town of Whiteclay, Nebraska, shortly after the establishment of Pine Ridge. Founded in the early 1880s, Whiteclay has had as its sole industry the provision of alcohol to the Natives of Pine Ridge. The town is located just a few miles south of the Pine Ridge and South Dakota borders, in the state of Nebraska.
But in April of this year, the Nebraska State Liquor Board voted unanimously to strip the stores of their licenses. Now, Pine Ridge residents are forced to drive over 21 miles, to the town of Rushville, Nebraska. This has already lead to an increase in DUI stops.
Categories: Native American, Native American History, Pine Ridge Lakota Sioux Reservation