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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

White Clay Profiting from the Disease of Alcoholism

The "dry" Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota is battling to protect its people from alcohol, which has systematically kept the residents in bondage. Pine Ridge is just across the border from the small town of Whiteclay (aka White Clay), Nebraska; the interesting thing about Whiteclay is that its sole purpose is to sell alcohol - a lot of it. The town consists of just 22 people, seems pretty harmless. What isn't harmless is the four State liquor stores in White Clay, an unbelievable number for a population of 22. Sadly these liquor stores are not in place to serve Nebraska locals, but, rather the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation just a few yards across the border in South Dakota is their target. It is believed that 80 percent of Pine Ridge's population suffers from the disease of alcoholism, a disease which is tearing the reservation apart. White Clay profiting from the Disease of Alcoholism is nothing short of an American atrocity.

Last Friday, activists called for action in the way of a crackdown on liquor outlets in the town of White Clay. According to the NP Telegraph, "those testifying criticized the four White Clay businesses that sell 3.2 million cans of beer each year - mostly to residents of the dry Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, where alcohol-related problems and poverty are rampant". America is a country of free enterprise, but, when proponents of free enterprise system agree that liquor sales that contribute to such suffering is irresponsible then something is terribly wrong with the system. That is the viewpoint of Anthony Hendrickson, dean of Creighton University's College of Business, who also said, "This is beyond the pale. This is predatory. There's no excuse". He is right; there is no excuse for profiting off of other peoples' disease when all of this could be avoided. Pine Ridge is a dry reservation for a reason, alcohol has and still is shattering the community dynamic; if its citizens can literally walk across the border to get drunk, then Pine Ridge being dry has no sway on its people. The alcoholic would walk as far as necessary to get that next drink, especially if they can practically see the liquor store from their home window. The government needs to impose restrictions upon White Clay, I mean let's be real, White Clay knows exactly where their money comes from and Pine Ridge is nothing short of an atrocious gold mine exploited daily.

Hendrickson along with a dozen others testified before a joint hearing of the General Affairs and Judiciary Committees. They are trying to determine how to reduce the high rates of alcoholism, violence and fetal-alcohol syndrome that are destroying Pine Ridge. "State Sen. Russ Karpisek of Wilber, who visited the town earlier this year, said he wants to explore funneling some of the $122,000 a year in state liquor excise taxes generated in White Clay to alcohol rehabilitation programs", states the NP Telegraph. That idea seems like a great start at managing this epidemic; but, is it enough; will it really have that much weight on the people of Pine Ridge? A group of Omaha Creighton Prep students formed a "Solidarity Club"; they were able to gather 700 Internet signatures from people who support their efforts. The NP Telegraph reports that, "in the next few weeks, the students said, they plan to present a letter to President Barack Obama urging him to overturn a 1904 order and restore a 50-square-mile "buffer zone" of no alcohol sales along the Nebraska border". Karpisek agrees that the "buffer zone" could actually do a lot of good and would certainly make it harder for people in the reservation to acquire liquor; but, what if people will just drive further to get what they need, potentially creating more alcohol related accidents.

Clearly, action needs to be taken by both South Dakota and Nebraska together to curb this devastating social dilemma. People should not be allowed to profit from the suffering of others, despite this being a capitalist society. Education and prevention is really the only answer to this, the government needs to provide the option of drug treatment to the citizens of Pine Ridge. With out those crucial measures the people of Pine Ridge will be forever taken by the disease of alcoholism.

1 comment:

  1. I passed through White Clay on the way to Mount Rushmore and it was a ashame what a seen there,drunks all over the place,one nearly staggered in the road in front of me.Was it terrible??..Yes it was! But the most terrible thing to me wasnt the liquor sales as that is legal,the worst thing was that there are no job or training programs in place for anyone to improve their lives.I live with 1 mile of 10-12 liquor stores and the problems are few if any where i live.I see the problem is that the US Goverment has stuck these folks out where there is little hope of employment or a better life for themselves and their families.I drink beer daily and work everyday as well but if i didnt have a job or hope of one i would probaly drink 24/7 as alot of the folks on the Pine Ridge Resv. are doing.Give a man some hope for him and his family 1st and then see what happens,a man will go to work,provide for his family and maybe drink a few beers at night and feel good about themselves.The problem is much bigger than the liquor stores at While Clay....!!


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