This 2005 file photo shows Pine Ridge police officers Mirian Laybad (left), Sgt. Oscar Hudspeth and Lt. Mitch Wisecarver confiscate cases of beer at a checkpoint just north of Whiteclay. (Lincoln Journal Star photo)
Every so often, we give ourselves a little lecture about cynicism. Because, it’s really not how we want to be. And then we read something like this
Associated Press story about the Nebraska Legislature’s efforts – and today, we use that word loosely – to deal with the situation at Whiteclay.
That’s the “town,” if you can call 14 people and a bunch of beer stores a town, on the Nebraska-South Dakota border that for all practical purposes exists to sell beer – some 4 million cans a year – across the border to residents of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, which is dry.
You want a definition of human misery? Spend about 10 minutes in Whiteclay. Make that five. Then go home and take a shower. You’ll feel like you need one.
Yesterday, the Nebraska Legislature gave its initial blessing to a bill that attempts to solve some of those problems caused by Whiteclay. But they didn’t include any money to implement the bill’s provisions. As the AP reports:
An initial bill would have set aside $250,000 annually to the fund for the next seven years, but Monday’s watered-down version set aside no money and provided no guarantee there would be any.
Critics of the plan called it unfocused, and said it was a one-sided attack on an issue that requires deep involvement from all affected parties – including the tribe and South Dakota.
Yes, the problems in Whiteclay are overwhelming and dispiriting. But people shouldn’t just give up, or, even worse, give lip service.
Oglala Sioux Tribal Council Chairwoman Theresa Two Bulls didn’t respond to the AP’s request for comment.
It actually took a resident of Whiteclay to call B.S. on this one.
Lance Moss, who owns a grocery store there, said that even if the money had been included in the bill, it wouldn’t have been enough, and besides, the Legislature had no clear approach to dealing with the alcoholism that gives Pine Ridge one of the highest rates in the nation of alcohol-related fatalities.
“They just want to look like they’re doing something,” he says. “They’re not doing anything.”
Tags: Alcohol abuse, buffalo post, Gwen Florio, Native American news, Nebraska Legislature, Oglala Lakota, Oglala Sioux Tribal Council, Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, Theresa Two Bulls, Whiteclay