Battle for Whiteclay Showing This Week

USD campus, Churchill Haines 118 on Tuesday and Thursday from 9:30-10:45am.  Following the conclusion of the film on Thursday, one of the featured activists in the film, Frank LaMere, will be present to lead discussion.

From the website battleforwhiteclay.org:

Whiteclay is an unincorporated village of 14 people in northwest Nebraska bordering the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, home to the Oglala Lakota (also known as the Oglala Sioux Tribe). The Pine Ridge lies almost entirely in South Dakota.

Whiteclay lies on disputed land, merely 200 feet from the official reservation border, and less than 2 miles from the center of Pine Ridge, South Dakota, the largest town on the reservation.

The number of people living on the Pine Ridge has long been controversial. The 2000 census reports 15,521 residents, but in 2005 the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) revised the figure to 28,000. The Oglala Sioux tribal government maintains that the true population of the Pine Ridge is around 40,000.

Sale and possession of alcoholic beverages on the Pine Ridge is prohibited under tribal law. Except for a brief experiment with on-reservation liquor sales in the early 1970s, this prohibition has been in effect since the reservation lands were created.

Whiteclay has four off-sale beer stores licensed by the State of Nebraska which sell the equivalent of 4.5 million 12-ounce cans of beer annually (12,500 cans per day), mostly to the Oglalas living on the Pine Ridge.

If you’ve ever been to Whiteclay, you know exactly what Nebraska’s alcohol licenses have wrought. That all licenses are off-sale and Pine Ridge is a dry rez means there’s no legal place anywhere nearby for people who buy the beer to consume it. Nebraskans are making millions off illegal activity.

I wrote my M.A. History thesis on Whiteclay as an Executive Addition to the Pine Ridge Reservation in 2001/2002, spending time visiting the area and interviewing locals, as well as in the dusty stacks looking at primary documents, but I haven’t yet seen this important film.

Kudos to Professor Harry Freeman for bringing it to the USD campus.

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