Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Pine Ridge Reservation Fights Alcoholism, High Jobless Rate Clinton Will Visit Indian Site Tomorrow Where Eight in 10 Are

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Pine Ridge Reservation Fights Alcoholism, High Jobless Rate Clinton Will Visit Indian Site Tomorrow Where Eight in 10 Are

Article excerpt

As long as the Pine Ridge Reservation has existed, alcohol has been banned from its borders, condemned as a scourge that would strip the tribe and its members of self-respect.

But the flat, hot road that links Pine Ridge with the outpost of Whiteclay, Neb., is littered with beer cans, tossed from cars or discarded by tribal members who, with nothing better to do, drive or walk the two-mile stretch to buy booze.

Now, in the month since two men from the Oglala Sioux tribe were found murdered along this road, the four liquor stores in tiny Whiteclay (population 22) have become the flash point for tribal discontent. The outward dispute at two recent protests is over the 4 million cans of beer the stores sell each year. But what bubbles out in conversation and during recent protests is anger - fury over the pace of the murder investigation, indignity over the dearth of opportunity that makes this area the nation's poorest, and disappointment that America doesn't seem to care. Amid all this tension, President Clinton is set to arrive tomorrow, with a contingent of business executives in tow. He's coming to emphasize the standing of Pine Ridge Reservation - a topography of gently rolling hills and sparsely populated grasslands - as an "empowerment zone." His visit is intended to bring investment and jobs to a place where 8 in 10 adults are unemployed, per capita income is $4,000 a year, and health problems and alcoholism are far greater than the national averages. The tribal government here wants to put on a good face for the captains of industry and lure investment, but activists say they plan further protests. For now, though, Whiteclay remains a ghost town, evacuated last week at the order of Nebraska Gov. Mike Johanns (R), after a June 26 protest turned violent and a grocery store was looted and burned. A second protest march on Saturday was peaceful, culminating in the arrests of American Indian Movement activist Russell Means and eight other tribal members who defied state and tribal police and entered the sealed-off town. (They were later cited and released, after some 750 protesters agreed to disperse.) For many tribal leaders, Whiteclay is more than an enclave of capitalism profiting from Oglala weakness and despair. They see the land under the town as rightfully part of their reservation, claiming it was given to the tribe in 1887. "We don't need Whiteclay to keep our people intoxicated, abused, depressed, oppressed, and suppressed," says tribal Chairman Harold Salway. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.