In the 19 months since Whiteclay's four beer-only liquor stores were shut down, the tribe's police chief has doubled the number of law enforcement officers and plans are in the works to increase places to detox and get treatment.
Monday marks the one-year anniversary of the closing of the four beer-only liquor stores in Whiteclay. The one or two dozen street people who used to openly drink, urinate and pass out along the road are gone, and traffic from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, just across the border in South Dakota, has been reduced from a stream to a trickle.
“We believe that the transformation has begun, both spiritually and in the people,” Bruce BonFleur said. “We feel like our time here is over.”
Speakers over and over said the closing won’t solve the multiple alcohol-related woes on the Pine Ridge Reservation, including estimates that one in four children is born with fetal alcohol syndrome. But Friday’s court ruling is a start that gives hope and opportunity, they said.
A fully engaged Nebraska Supreme Court peppered lawyers with questions during a hearing Tuesday to decide the future of beer sales in the village of Whiteclay.
Legal Aid of Nebraska and the Appleseed Center for Law in the Public Interest had filed requests Aug. 9 to submit arguments, saying that as agencies that deal with the poor and unemployed, they had an interest in assuring that the four beer-only liquor stores in Whiteclay remain closed.
Two groups that provide services to Native Americans, Legal Aid and the Appleseed Center, have asked to intervene in the lawsuit over the future of beer sales in Whiteclay, Nebraska.
Scottsbluff lawyer Andrew Snyder, who represents the four beer-only liquor stores, asked the high court to overturn the state liquor commission’s April decision to not renew the liquor licenses for the stores.
Whiteclay, which sits just across the South Dakota-Nebraska border from the reservation, is an unincorporated village of nine residents. Its stores sold the equivalent of 3.5 million cans of a beer a year — almost all to residents of the reservation.
Construction began last week on a Family Dollar discount variety store, the first new retail structure built in the unincorporated town of nine residents in at least a decade.
Attorneys for the State Liquor Control Commission submitted written legal arguments on Monday to support the commission’s decision in April to shut down the beer stores in the northwest Nebraska border town.
On Wednesday, the court set oral arguments in the case for Aug. 29, and moved up the schedule for written briefs by a week, with the first briefs due by July 10. That means that the liquor stores would not likely learn their fate until September or October.
Among the ideas discussed were bringing a lumberyard, laundromat and detox center to Whiteclay. There was talk of erecting a memorial to the decades-long struggle to shut down the liquor stores and remember those who died from murders and exposure in the unincorporated village of less than 10 people.
The attorney for the shuttered beer stores in Whiteclay, Nebraska, has asked the state Supreme Court to expedite its hearing of the stores’ appeal, saying that the stores would be further harmed by waiting.
While one tribal entity financed the purchase of a liquor store, the tribal council of the Oglala Sioux Tribe unanimously called for closing four liquor stores 35 miles away, in Whiteclay.
In the days following the shuttering of the four beer stores in Whiteclay, activists are working to get detoxification services to those facing alcohol withdrawal.
The state’s highest court took the case over from the Nebraska Court of Appeals. That means there will be a quicker resolution to the question of whether the four beer-only liquor stores in Whiteclay will remain closed or reopen.
The Budweiser trucks rolled into Whiteclay early Monday for what could be the last time. But instead of hauling cases into the village’s four beer-only liquor stores, a group of men brought stacks and stacks of boxes out to load into the truck.
Two Budweiser trucks were parked in front of Arrowhead Inn in Whiteclay on Monday morning, and several people were hauling cases of beer to the trucks.
The Nebraska Attorney General’s Office filed an appeal Thursday afternoon following a Lancaster County judge’s decision earlier in the day to allow four beer-only liquor stores to remain open in Whiteclay, Nebraska.
After hearing competing arguments from attorneys Wednesday, Lancaster County District Judge Andrew Jacobsen took the case under advisement.
The beer stores’ licenses expire Sunday, which sparked a request, filed Monday, to postpone their closing while they appeal the vote in court.
The request was filed in Lancaster County District Court, and a hearing on that request is expected to be held later this week.
The freshman state senator from northwest Nebraska is fighting back a wave of criticism, and even a death threat, for his support of closing down the beer-only liquor stores in the border village of Whiteclay.
The Nebraska Liquor Control Commission created a small opening last week for tribes and the State of Nebraska to chart a different course for …
On Wednesday, a state liquor board voted 3-0 to end the long-controversial beer sales in Whiteclay, an unincorporated village known as the “Skid Row of the Plains” that sells millions of cans of beer each year to residents of the officially dry Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
The three-member board recently held public hearings on whether the Whiteclay liquor licenses should be renewed, and is scheduled to announce its decision on Wednesday.
The Nebraska Liquor Control Commission has scheduled a meeting at 11 a.m. on Wednesday to announce whether it will renew licenses for four stores in Whiteclay that sell the equivalent of 3.5 million cans of beer a year.
After taking 10 hours of testimony Thursday, a state liquor board decided to postpone until May 2, if not earlier, a vote on whether the four beer-only liquor stores in Whiteclay should keep their liquor licenses.
The commission will take testimony on whether there’s adequate law enforcement to allow liquor sales in Whiteclay — an unincorporated village of a dozen residents with no local government or police force.
A judge has denied a request by liquor stores in Whiteclay, Nebraska, to block a hearing scheduled Thursday over whether alcohol sales should continue in the unincorporated village.
Late last week, Andrew Snyder of Scottsbluff, a lawyer representing the village’s four beer-only retailers, made the accusation during a court hearing that unsuccessfully tried to block the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission from potentially revoking the stores’ licenses to sell alcohol.
The ruling means that for now, the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission will proceed with hearings next Thursday and Friday in Lincoln to determine whether the licenses for the controversial beer-only outlets will be renewed.
In court filings Wednesday, the attorney for the beer-only outlets maintained that the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission has exceeded its powers in forcing the stores to reapply for their licenses.
The 22 citations, recently filed by the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office, represent a new offensive against the continued sale of beer in the unincorporated village.
The BonFleurs, who say they were called by God to this “skid row of the Plains,” have proposed a buyout of Whiteclay’s four beer-only liquor stores. They hope to raise as much as $6.3 million from private and public sources to finally close down the stores after years of protests and other efforts have failed.
Lawmakers voted 42-0 to advance Legislative Bill 407, which would create a task force to examine the notorious border town’s absence of detox facilities, jobs and training programs, and other factors that contribute to the area’s rampant alcohol problems.
One speaker at the rally, Frank LaMere, a Native American activist, said that after 18 years of work to halt liquor sales, he feels that action is finally possible.
The Nebraska Liquor Control Commission had been scheduled to meet March 7 to decide whether the liquor licenses for four beer-only liquor stores should be renewed. But now that hearing has been rescheduled to April 6.
The stores sell the equivalent of 3.5 million cans of beer a year. Almost all sales are to residents of the adjacent Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, where alcohol is officially banned, but alcoholism and fetal alcohol syndrome is rampant.
“We have to find a solution that’s as big as the problem,” said State Sen. Tom Brewer of Gordon, who also is a member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe in South Dakota.
The recommendation sets up a showdown over continued beer sales in Whiteclay before the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission, probably at its March meeting.
Critics of continuing beer sales in the border village of Whiteclay charged Thursday that the sales are “predatory” and add to alcohol-connected woes on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, just across the border in South Dakota.
A state liquor board has suspended for 12 days the liquor license of the Arrowhead Inn, which is expected to pay a $600 fine in lieu of the suspension for selling beer to a minor.
The Nebraska Liquor Control Commission voted unanimously this week to require the beer stores in Whiteclay to reapply for their liquor licenses.
The Nebraska Liquor Control Commission, citing questions about inadequate law enforcement in the tiny village, voted 3-0 to require the four stores to reapply for their liquor licenses. That is an involved process that will require a review by the Sheridan County Board, probably a public hearing and then a final vote by the state liquor commission.
Most advocated the closing of the four beer stores that sell nearly 4 million cans of beer per year. Almost all sales are to residents of the officially dry Pine Ridge Reservation, just across the Nebraska-South Dakota border.
The donations from beer industry groups include $1,000 to State Auditor Charlie Janssen when he was running for state auditor and $7,950 during his six years in the Legislature.
The family of a woman who died this summer in Whiteclay, Nebraska, hopes an investigation will yield answers about the circumstances of her death.
Authorities are investigating a homicide that may be linked to Whiteclay, a Nebraska town that sells millions of cans of beer annually near South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
Sherry Wounded Foot, 50, was found beaten and unconscious behind a building in town Aug. 5, said John Maisch, a documentary filmmaker and former liquor regulator.
A group of advocates, addressing members of the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission, said that an ad hoc committee, among six recommendations, asked that a full-time police officer be stationed in Whiteclay, an unincorporated remote town that sells nearly 4 million cans of beer a year. Almost all of the beer is sold to residents of the officially dry Pine Ridge Indian Reservation
A second county commissioner provided budget documents showing that about one-third of the county’s $5.2 million general fund was spent on law enforcement, jailing inmates, and prosecuting and defending cases. Krotz said in minutes of the meeting Feb. 1 that most of the costs are from Whiteclay.
The equivalent of 3.5 million cans of beer are sold there annually, mostly to residents of a nearby Indian reservation, where rates of alcoholism, teen suicide, spousal abuse and fetal alcohol syndrome are rampant.
Activists seeking to shut down the liquor stores in the border town of Whiteclay, Nebraska, said Tuesday that slow response times to assaults, fires and other incidents there give the state plenty of ammunition to close the stores.
For organizers, it was a chance to show the alcohol-related misery caused by the millions of cans of high-alcohol beer sold in this unincorporated village. Most of that beer is sold to residents of the officially dry Pine Ridge Reservation, just across the South Dakota border.
Residents of the reservation, in southern South Dakota bordering Nebraska, were poised to vote Tuesday. But the Oglala Sioux Tribal Council, in the face of protesters on horseback, voted 9-4 late Monday afternoon to halt the election.
Frank LaMere, a Winnebago tribal member who was among the first to complain about the beer sales at Whiteclay, said that a letter he wrote to Obama was handed to the president during his recent appearance in Omaha.
A committee appointed by Gov. Pete Ricketts to explore problems associated with beer sales in the unincorporated village of Whiteclay, Nebraska, held its first meeting last week.
Through Friday, a journalism class of 120 students is promoting its “Open Eyes Not Cans” project, as part of “Whiteclay Week.” The class focuses on social justice and human rights issues in the media.
Members of the Sheridan County Board met with Whiteclay business owners on Monday and pledged to meet again on Nov. 9 in search of solutions.
For those who want to help ease the alcohol-fueled suffering in and near Whiteclay, Nebraska, retorts about how to do so loop like a song:
Pete Ricketts looks to residents for strategy, while Doug Peterson hears from local ministry.
Native Americans travel to Whiteclay to buy alcohol as stores sold 4 million beers last year.
Whiteclay is a magnet for street people, perhaps 20 to 30 of them, who panhandle for spare change to buy beer. What to do about what some call “the skid row of the Plains” has perplexed generations of state and tribal officials.
On Oct. 7 at 7 p.m., the film will be shown at the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s Weitz Community Engagement Center.