Published: Fri, April 21, 2017
Health | By Jay Jacobs

Nebraska beer stores near reservation lose liquor licenses

For two decades, he's called for an end to alcohol sales in Whiteclay, Nebraska, due to the awful consequences.

Whiteclay has about eight official residents, but combined, its liquor stores sell millions of cans of beer each year, much of it to Oglala Lakota tribal members.

"For one day in the history of Nebraska, we gave voice for those who have none", LaMere said. I think Nebraskans won.

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"It means that my life matters", said gaiashkibos, a member of the Ponca tribe. The Oglala Lakota Tribe bans alcohol on the reservation, but the rules are frequently violated.

Scott Weston, the president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, said that many crimes go unsolved or unreported in Whiteclay, and that ending beer sales will help the tribe address its alcohol problems and make it harder for bootleggers to obtain their product.

Bruce BonFleur, who founded the ministry 13 years ago, said this could be a transformative decision for Whiteclay.

Commission Chairman Robert Batt said he hopes not renewing the licenses can be the first step in addressing change in Whiteclay.

Snyder also says the Whiteclay stores have been the targets of additional audits and inspections recently by various state agencies, including the liquor commission and attorney general's office - again because of pressure from Ricketts.

Snyder plans to ask the Lancaster County District Court for a stay of the denial so beer sales can continue until the appeal is decided.

"They voted to deny the reapplications, because they don't believe there's adequate law enforcement present in Whiteclay to ensure compliance with the act", Rupe says.

Andrew Snyder, an attorney for the beer stores, said the commission contradicted previous Nebraska Supreme Court rulings with its decision and argued that the store owners complied with state law.

After decades of controversy the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission voted Wednesday to deny the renewal of licenses for four liquor stores in Whiteclay. The nearest law enforcement office in Sheridan County is based in Rushville, more than 20 miles south of Whiteclay.

"I'll be out of a job, which is gonna be good", said Abram Neumann, a 22-year-old missionary who's tended to Whiteclay's street people for the last two years.

"[This] will save a lot of people.lot of kids that are suffering,"Dull Knife said of Wednesday's decision".

"We were appalled by some of the attitudes of Sheridan County officials that they don't have a problem there".

"Today is an emotional day.and I'm gonna let it be an emotional day", Boesem said.

Commissioner Bruce Bailey of Lincoln cited a number of provisions in state law that he felt were not being upheld in Whiteclay. He comes to Whiteclay, he said, for camaraderie, and to pass the time.

On April 6, the liquor commission heard from complainants and beer store owners in a hearing room inside the Capitol to decide whether Whiteclay had enough law enforcement presence.

Adequate law enforcement, by law, is a condition for issuing a liquor license in a community or neighborhood.

Batt said commissioners "did this by the book" and expressed confidence their decision would hold up in court.

Shutting down the beer stores, he said, won't solve all the liquor-related problems on the Pine Ridge Reservation, just across the state line in South Dakota, but it will make alcohol less accessible and end "the catalyst" for a lot of the problems.

Advocates blame the stores for the reservation's high rates of fetal alcoholism and poverty.

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