Blackfeet Tribe, Montana

Staff Reports
7/26/00

The Blackfeet Indian Tribe again banned sales of alcohol on the reservation during the North American Indian Days Pow Wow July 13-17. "People haven't made any real complaints about it and it gives us a lot less worries,'' said Ron Augare, supervising dozens of law enforcement officers at the pow wow in Browning. "It stops a lot of accidents and young children from getting into car wrecks,'' said Jolene Wippert, assistant manager of a gas station here. A sign taped to the station's beer coolers said no alcohol would be sold until the morning of July 17. For years, alcohol was banned at a campground used by thousands for the pow wow. New tribal policy restricted beer and liquor sales anywhere on the reservation. Critics said it could lead to bootlegging and send people off the reservation to buy alcohol. "I could go either way because I don't drink that much,'' said Joe Crow, a Browning resident. "But we've had Indian Days with alcohol and it wasn't a problem.'' Harry Sure Chief, an organizer of Indian Days, said alcohol-related incidents dropped drastically during the 1999 pow wow. About 90 people were arrested for matters related to alcohol, compared to the jailing of more than 500 in 1998.

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