April 23, 2017

Nebraska Beer Stores Near Reservation Lose Liquor Licenses

21 April 2017, 03:00 | Rodolfo Wallace

Nebraska Panel Denies Whiteclay Liquor License Applications

The tap runs dry for Whiteclay beer vendors

Frank LaMere finally got the decision he's been waiting for.

The woman said creating a rehabilitation center for the wanderers of Whiteclay would do more good than ending alcohol sales.

Native Americans from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota drink beer in Whiteclay, Nebraska.

"I don't think it's going to make a difference", he said of the commission's decision. I am proud to be a Nebraskan. Alcohol, she said, "is killing a lot of Native Americans".

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Attorney for Whiteclay's "State Line Liquor" store, Andrew Snyder, says they intend to appeal the decision immediately. Once, he and members of his family set up a roadblock on Highway 87, and in half a day confiscated and emptied 80 cases of beer from cars leaving the village of seven people.

"This is more proof that this is politically motivated and not based on the facts", Snyder said of the vote.

"I never expected this to happen", said Bryan Brewer, a former Oglala Lakota Tribe president who had called on state officials to close the stores.

John Maisch, an activist who fought to shutter the stores, said opponents will work with the tribe to help make changes that its members want.

They also maintain that closing down the stores will not solve liquor woes on the Pine Ridge Reservation.

"This is a historic decision", Weston said.

Commission Chairman Robert Batt said he hopes not renewing the licenses can be the first step in addressing change in Whiteclay.

A state liquor board took the unprecedented step Wednesday of voting to deny the renewal of the liquor licenses of four beer stores in Whiteclay, Nebraska.

The commission voted unanimously to deny the licenses.

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Sheridan County, where Whiteclay is located, is patrolled by a sheriff's office with five full-time deputies. The town of Whiteclay has fewer than one dozen residents. "I've seen a lot of people who I would consider friends here in Whiteclay die over the years that I've been here", said Neumann. "Those guys are all good people", he said.

"We were appalled by some of the attitudes of Sheridan County officials that they don't have a problem there".

"We have been poisoning a group of people for many years, and today a decision was made to end that", said Sen.

Commissioner Bruce Bailey of Lincoln cited a number of provisions in state law that he felt were not being upheld in Whiteclay.

Adequate law enforcement, by law, is a condition for issuing a liquor license in a community or neighborhood. Before he left Pine Ridge on Monday for the hearing, he heard rumors that the beer stores had already won.

David Domina, the Omaha lawyer representing five Sheridan County residents who protested the licenses this year, said he doesn't believe the 2006 result is likely to be repeated.

Batt said that the lack of law enforcement in Whiteclay was threatening public health and safety.

The stores sell cheap beer and malt liquor just 200 yards south of the reservation, which prohibits alcohol but continues to struggle with high rates of fetal alcoholism and one of the lowest life expectancy rates in the Western Hemisphere.

"If we can fix countries all over the world, we need to fix the poorest county in the United States", he said. "These are human beings. They are really suffering".

The liquor licenses expire on April 30, 2017.

"This isn't going to end the problems, but it's a start", Brewer said. Andersen asked. "If it's not adequate in Whiteclay, it's probably not adequate in hundreds of small towns too". "They're not going to not get it".

The owners of Arrowhead Inn, State Line Liquor, D&S Pioneer Service and Jumping Eagle Inn weren't present for Wednesday's vote.

The liquor store owners have argued that they run legal businesses, and that, if anything, law enforcement has improved in recent years.

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