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Thursday, October 4, 2012

Oglala Sioux Tribe's Lawsuit Against Beer Stores And Manufacturers Dismissed

Map of the Great Sioux Reservation.
Map of the Great Sioux Reservation. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
This past week a federal judge dismissed the lawsuit brought by the Oglala Sioux Tribe against four beer stores located in Whiteclay, Nebraska, regional distributors and four manufacturers: Anheuser-Busch, Molson Coors Brewing Company, MillerCoors LLC and Pabst Brewing Company. If you are not familiar with the background on this case you can read our post that was published September 29, 2009.

The Oglala Sioux live on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation located in South Dakota, alcohol is prohibited on the reservation; however, just across the border in the very small town of Whiteclay (population 12) there are four beer stores. These four beer stores sell 4.3 million 12-ounce cans of beer each year. The 2011 estimated population of Pine Ridge is somewhere between 28,000-40,000.

The Judge's opinion

According to CBS Money Watch U.S. District Judge John M. Gerrard stated:
"There is, in fact, little question that alcohol sold in Whiteclay contributes significantly to tragic conditions on the reservation. And it may well be that the defendants could, or should, do more to try to improve those conditions for members of the tribe. But that is not the same as saying that a federal court has jurisdiction to order them to do so."
Judge Gerrard dismissed the case without prejudice, so the Oglala Sioux can take their case to a state court. 

The impact of alcoholism and mental health issues on the residents of Pine Ridge

The statistics of the impact of the disease of alcoholism and mental health issues on this very small and impoverished tribe are startling:
  • One in four children born on the reservation from fetal alcohol syndrome or fetal alcohol spectrum disorder
  • Life expectancy on the reservation is estimated between 45 and 52, the shortest in the Northern Hemisphere except for Haiti
  • 85% of the families are affected by the disease of alcoholism
  • 90% of all crimes on the reservation are alcohol related
  • Infant mortality rate is five times the US national average
  • Adolescent suicide rate is four times the national average

KFOR-TV News report on a documentary 

If you are having trouble viewing the video, you can see it here.

In closing...

English: Survivors of Wounded Knee Massacre (T...
English: Survivors of Wounded Knee Massacre (Title: What's left of Big Foot's band). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Students of history will recall that Pine Ridge Indian Reservation includes the site of the Wounded Knee Massacre which occurred on December 29, 1890, 150 Lakota Sioux were killed; however, some estimate the actual number neared 300. 25 US cavalrymen were also killed. Now there is a new battle - The Battle for Whiteclay and many are dying or are wounded...from the disease of alcoholism.

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