Pine Ridge Officials Propose to End Alcohol Prohibition to Generate Revenue on Reservation

Pine Ridge Officials Propose to End Alcohol Prohibition to Generate Revenue on Reservation


The Oglala Sioux Tribe's (OST) Law and Order Committee has proposed legalizing the sale, possession and consumption of alcohol on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. The goal is to stop millions of dollars from leaving the reservation in South Dakota every year, reported

"People want to drink alcohol and they're going to go to the places where they can buy it and this isn't the only place they can buy it.  They can buy it in Rapid City and bring it down.  They can buy it at the Boondocks and bring it in," said Bruce Whalen, coordinator of the committee.

"It would be nice to be able to have that revenue generated here and then have some of that revenue allocated for positive things," Whalen added, such as detox and treatment facilities, and youth prevention programs.

The proposal is with the tribal council; if approved, the public will vote on the issue.

"My position is I think we need to let the people have a chance to vote on it to see," Whalen told the local TV station.

"I think it would be good if they legalized alcohol on the reservation because the money will stay inside the tribe instead of Nebraska getting these guys rich," said Pine Ridge resident Jeff Big Crow Sr.

The proposal comes shortly after a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by the OST against brewers, retailers and distributors of alcohol sold in Whiteclay, Nebraska. The lawsuit was dismissed October 1 by U.S. District Court Judge John M. Gerrard, without prejudice, which means the tribe was free to take their claims to state court. The case has since been opened in Nebraska.

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andre's picture
Submitted by andre on
This is a controversial idea and yes it flies in the face of tradition and values, but the fact is, every Native reservation that professes to be dry, supports border towns that sell alcohol. Often to the tune of millions of dollars a year. Having seen this failure first hand for years. I would sign up to support this legalization of sale and use of alcohol conditioned on using some of the proceeds improve infrastructure and creating business opportunities. I know many Natives who drink and drink responsibly. The ones who do not drink responsibly usually do not have hope or opportunity and that is why it seems they drink to despair and create problems.