Partial victory for Crazy Horse defense project

David Melmer
4/25/01

ROSEBUD, S.D. - As far as the owner of G. Heileman Brewing company is concerned they will never bottle, distribute or have anything to do with Crazy Horse Malt Liquor again.

A partial victory came to the Crazy Horse Defense Project when SBC Holdings Inc. apologized to the Estate of Tasunke Witko and Seth Big Crow, administrator of the estate, for the offensive conduct of G. Heileman Brewing Co.

"We understand that the marketing of a malt liquor beverage bearing the name of the revered Lakota leader and your ancestor, disparaged his spirit and caused you and his other descendants emotional distress," the SBC Holdings written apology stated in part.

The settlement with the Crazy Horse estate does not affect Hornell Brewing Co., d.b.a. Ferolito, Vultaggio & Sons, which is still listed as a defendant in a civil lawsuit filed in October 2000.

Bob Gough, lead attorney for the estate, said he wasn't sure if Hornell was using another company to bottle and distribute under the Crazy Horse label.

The civil suit was filed in federal court after other attempts in the court systems failed. The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the Rosebud Tribal Court had no standing because the malt liquor was neither sold nor bottled on the reservation. The appeals court decision came more than two years ago.

Gough said the newest lawsuit would have to be tried on the merits, where the other case was not.

G. Heileman Brewing Co. filed for bankruptcy relief in 1996 and was taken over by Strohs Brewing, which was held by SBC Holdings. The recent settlement and apology by SBC Holdings takes G. Heileman off the list of defendants.

The estate has asked nothing more than to halt bottling and distribution of the malt liquor by Hornell and its contract brewing companies - no compensation was demanded in the lawsuits.

The agreement with SBC Holdings includes a public apology, assignment to the estate of all purported intellectual property rights in the name of Crazy Horse including outstanding applications with the Patent and Trademark Office; cooperation in developing documents in SBC Holdings' possession, destruction of all packages and packaging materials related to Crazy Horse Malt Liquor and agreement to never use the name Crazy Horse in any commercial venture.

In addition, SBC Holdings agreed to present the estate and Rosebud Tribe with 32 Pendleton blankets, 32 braids of sweet grass, 32 twists of tobacco and seven gelding or mare thoroughbred horses. The significance of the number 32 is for every state in which the malt liquor is distributed.

"We hope that you will accept these items, as our apology for the offensive conduct of the G. Heileman Brewing Company. We look forward to presenting them to you in public ceremony," said George Kuehn of SBC Holdings.

The presentation will take place April 26 at the Rosebud Sioux tribal office.

The Crazy Horse Defense Project continues to maintain a boycott of Arizona Ice Tea products, distributed by Ferolito, Vultaggio & Sons of New York.

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