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Sun May 13, 2012, 08:35 PM

HuffPo: Beer Sniffing Reporters Invade Pine Ridge

By Tim Giago

When Tim Williams of The New York Times called me prior to his sojourn to Pine Ridge he asked if we could meet. I assured that we could. He told me when he would be out here and gave me a phone number, but when I called it he never answered and so we never met. The first thing I cautioned him about in our initial phone conversation was not to make the beer selling stores in Whiteclay, Neb., the focus of his visit. Needless to say, that is exactly what he did.

Like Ms. Sawyer, he made his visit to Whiteclay the centerpiece of his story. When Ms. Sawyer asked the Pine Ridge police chief, Rich Greenwald, about crime on the reservation, he replied that 80 percent of the people his officers arrested for traffic violations or other crimes were alcohol related. How did Ms. Sawyer report this comment? She said that 80 percent of the people living on the Pine Ridge Reservation were alcoholics. Say what? Didn't she hear what he really said or was she seeking some sort of sensationalism at the expense of the Lakota people of Pine Ridge?

Newman built his column on the fact that "Nicholas Kristof painted a heartbreaking picture" of the Pine Ridge Reservation. Yes he did, but he made Pine Ridge and Whiteclay synonymous with alcoholism. One is a community whose sole existence is selling beer and cheap wine to the residents of Pine Ridge and the other is a community with active programs struggling financially to combat alcoholism, a community with an extension of Oglala Lakota College in each district, a Boys and Girls Club actively working against crime, alcoholism and the deprivations of poverty, and also a community with four high schools such as Little Wound, Crazy Horse, Pine Ridge High School, and Red Cloud High School, that are working long and hard to stop the very problems caused by alcohol and poverty that the savvy reporters from New York failed to seek out.

Tony Newman was right when he wrote that prohibition is not the answer to curing alcoholism because it was tried nationally and only led to the birth and growth of organized crime. It also did not stop alcohol consumers from drinking.

Read more at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tim-giago/beer-sniffing-reporters-i_b_1513111.html

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Reply HuffPo: Beer Sniffing Reporters Invade Pine Ridge (Original post)
OmahaBlueDog May 2012 OP
jwirr May 2012 #1
OmahaBlueDog May 2012 #2
jwirr May 2012 #3
OmahaBlueDog May 2012 #4

Response to OmahaBlueDog (Original post)

Sun May 13, 2012, 11:15 PM

1. Having seen this personally. Mr Giago's article is absolutely correct. Whiteclay is appropriately

named - white greed on display. When I was there it consisted of establishments selling liquor and a huge pile of empty beer cans and bottles behind the bars/liquor stores. I had hoped they would be closed down by now.

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Response to jwirr (Reply #1)

Mon May 14, 2012, 03:54 PM

2. Re: I had hoped they would be closed down by now.

Last edited Mon May 14, 2012, 05:15 PM - Edit history (2)

Refer to: http://www.democraticunderground.com/101627884

or to: http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/public_health/150544095.html#ixzz1uQaAYy00

The Times reported in April on an attempt by the Nebraska legislature to create “alcohol impact zones” that would limit sales of alcohol products in areas impacted by alcohol related crimes (the crime rates on Pine Ridge are also very high). That effort is stalled in committee. According to the Times, seven of eight Nebraska Senate committee members have received more than $21,000 in contributions from Anheuser-Busch over the past five years

Especially if one enters Pine Ridge from the Nebraska side, there is a surreal quality to it. One travels north on a highway, with little more than brush and cow pasture for miles -- broken up by the occasional farm home. Then, as one approaches Pine Ridge, there is an area -- calling it a town would be charitable -- with convenience stores and people sitting against buildings and laying down on sidewalks passed out drunk. It's as if a skid row out of a huge Eastern city suddenly appeared in the middle of the rural plains. But the skid row is entirely populated by Native Americans. I can never find the right adjective. Sad? Pathetic? Sickening? Horrifying? Disheartening?

Another question -- why Whiteclay? Is it simply because it's within walking distance of Pine Ridge? Why don't we witness this spectacle at other towns bordering/near the Pine Ridge Rez, like Oelerichs, SD, Kadoka, SD, or Martin, SD? Why don't we see this phennomenon in Valentine or Kilgore, NE which are close to the Rosebud Reservation?

Without making a judgement on legality or morality, I'd ask the Board Members of Anheuser-Busch this: You invite friends to your home, and you serve cocktails. After a while, you become aware that a particular friend is displaying the behavior of an alchoholic. S/He is behaving oddly or badly, and yet this person won't stop drinking cocktails. At what point does it become your responsibility to stop serving your friend drinks? At what point does decency demand you say "enough - I have to cut you off"? Now carry the analogy out further. Your friends in Whiteclay are buying 4 million cans of beverages made by you and your competitors. You've sold these same products to your friends in many other areas, with few problems. In Whiteclay, however, your friends seem to be struggling with your product. Many of them behave in the manner of people with a drinking problem. Does there come a time when you say to your friends "You've had too much -- at least for now. We're not serving any more"?


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Response to OmahaBlueDog (Reply #2)

Mon May 14, 2012, 04:42 PM

3. Not changed much then. As to why Whiteclay - isn't Pine Ridge in South Dakota and Whiteclay in

Nebraska? Very hard to make a law between two states. Nebraska wants the taxes and South Dakota doesn't care as long as it stays on the rez. The residents of Pine Ridge did what they could by banning alcohol but it is not going to work when it cannot be enforced just off the rez. I am very saddened to hear this - had many friends out there years ago.

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Response to jwirr (Reply #3)

Mon May 14, 2012, 05:48 PM

4. I think the problem is partly what you say and partly "Whiteclay Pop. 10"

There's no community or police force in Whiteclay to put their foot down. There are no school children to be protected from drunken behavior. It's like a Mexican border town set up just to sell those north of the border what they can't get. And -- as I said before -- it's in easy walking distance of Pine Ridge. I realize politicians can be bought easily, but I think even the $21K in campaign contributions wouldn't stall a bill that could potentially fight public drunkenness and child prostitution in Lincoln or Omaha. The pols would be crucified in the press. But in Whiteclay, there's no outraged constituency.

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