The Pine Ridge Lakota Sioux Indian reservation is one of the largest of its kind in the United States. Formed from the harsh landscape of Southern South Dakota, it has served as the ancestral home of the Lakota people for millennia. The area has been home to such famous figures and heroes of the Sioux Indians as Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull. It’s not far from Wounded Knee and the Little Big Horn, both places where seminal events in Native American history took place.
But the Pine Ridge reservation has also been plagued by some of the most serious problems of any location within the United States. The unemployment rate is the highest of any census region. It has astounding rates of alcoholism and a huge number of its residents never graduate from high school. Due to a perceived propensity of the Lakota to fall victim to alcoholism, the reservation has been dry since its founding, in the late 1870s.
The fact that the reservation has been completely bereft of alcohol has long led its residents to the nearby town of Whiteclay, Nebraska, a town which has existed since the 1880s for the sole purpose of selling beer and booze to the residents of the Pine Ridge reservation. Because of the questionable morality of the town’s sole industry, Whiteclay has long been the focus of attack by groups ranging from Christian teetotalers to Indian rights activists. Recently, the town’s liquor stores finally lost their licenses. For now, they will no longer be able to sell alcohol to the Lakota.
Categories: Native American, Pine Ridge Lakota Sioux Reservation, Whiteclay