The Pine Ridge Oglala Sioux reservation is among the oldest and largest in the entire country. Established in the 1870s, the reservation has a storied past and formed a crucial part of U.S. history. Once home to some of the greatest names of the Old West, such as Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse, today, the reservation is home to the descendants of the great tribe, which once ruled the northern plains and defeated entire armies.
But today, the Natives who call the Pine Ridge reservation home have been ravaged by alcoholism and poverty. With some estimates putting the rate of alcoholism at 60 percent, it’s no wonder that the reservation has been dry for the entirety of its existence, with the sale of alcohol being strictly prohibited.
However, that hasn’t stopped the neighboring town of Whiteclay, Nebraska, located just a few hundred yards away from the reservation’s border, from providing the Pine Ride residents with beer and liquor, for the last 130 years. Many Nebraska residents have long considered the Whiteclay’s four beer stores to be a moral blight on the state. In April of this year, the Nebraska Liquor Control Board finally resolved to do something about it.
The board voted unanimously not to renew the licenses of the four stores that provide liquor to the Pine Ridge Natives, thus shutting them down, as of May 1. But many people in Sheridan County, where Whiteclay is located, have not been pleased with the move. Rushville, a town 25 miles south of Whiteclay, passed a number of ordinances in anticipation of the lawlessness that was present for over a century in Whiteclay now being exported into their idyllic, small town.
The ordinances included prohibitions on vagrancy, public urination and public drunkenness. So far, there have not been any citations issued under the new ordinances. But the Rushville mayor, Chris Heiser, has stated that he’s seen evidence of an increase in drunken driving arrests already.
Categories: Native American, Native American History, Nebraska, Nebraska Liquor Control Board, The Pine Ridge Oglala Sioux Indian Reservation