Pine Ridge Votes to Remove Alcohol Ban: 'The Lesser of Two Evils?'


“Sometimes you have to choose the lesser of two evils,” that’s what James “Toby” Big Boy, chairman of the Oglala Sioux’s Law and Order Committee said in November of last year when discussing the announcement of potentially lifting the ban of alcohol on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.

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A move that became reality Wednesday, August 14 when Tribal election officials confirmed that tribal members, in a public referendum had voted to overturn the ban with a  vote of 1,843 in favor and 1,678 against, according to The New York Times.

The evils that Big Boy was referring to, were the smuggling of alcohol onto the current dry reservation from nearby Whiteclay, Nebraska – a town with about 12 residents, that saw alcohol sales in the millions of dollars being the greater. Now the reservation will be able to regulate the sales and distribution supporters said according to The Times.

The Oglala Sioux Tribe has been fighting a losing battle with the distribution of alcohol in Whiteclay, which lies within 250 feet of the reservation border. The tribe filed a $500 million lawsuit on February 9, 2012 to try and stop the high volume of alcohol being distributed.

RELATED: Oglala Sioux Tribe Files $500M Lawsuit Against Brewers, Distributors and Sellers of Alcohol in Whiteclay, Nebraska

Since then there have been multiple marches and blockades stopping distribution trucks from reaching the Whiteclay stores and bars. The first sign that the blockades were working came in July when High Plains Budweiser announced that it would no longer be delivering alcohol to the town of Whiteclay.

RELATED: Beer Wars: Budweiser to Stop Delivering to Whiteclay

In November Big Boy said, “Today, Whiteclay is taking advantage of our people. To benefit our people we need to regain that revenue for ourselves.”

A decision that the tribe seems to agree with.

Update Coming Soon.