August 16, 2013

"Fighting firewater with firewater"

Pine Ridge Vote to Sell Alcohol Could Kill Whiteclay, Bring Huge Revenue to Tribe

By Vincent SchillingIn a public referendum vote on Wednesday, August 14, tribal members of the Oglala Sioux Tribe on the Pine Ridge Reservation voted to overturn the ban of alcohol with a vote of 1,843 in favor and 1,678 against. OST President Bryan Brewer has confirmed these results with Indian Country Today Media Network.

However, Brewer says that though the tribal members of the OST have stated their stance with a majority in favor of lifting the ban, the vote is not binding. The matter on whether or not to lift the ban is in the hands of the tribal council. Brewer says he expects the measure to pass in favor of lifting the ban.

Though Brewer says the matter of allowing alcohol on the Pine Ridge Reservation is a difficult one, he will support the decisions of his people and the vote of the tribal council. “If the council decides to do it, and I think they probably will, then we will start the process of legalizing alcohol on the reservation.”

“I find this entire matter troubling," said Brewer, “and, fighting alcohol problems with the proceeds of selling alcohol are like, fighting firewater with firewater.”
Key point:In a previous interview with James “Toby” Big Boy, Chairman of the Oglala Sioux’s Law and Order Committee, it’s not about alcohol problems as much as it is about taking down Whiteclay, a town that sits at the Reservation’s border and sells millions of dollars of alcohol to tribal members annually.

“The way I feel, we as a tribe understand the cultural meanings behind allowing alcohol, but you've got to understand the advantages to this. Today, Whiteclay is taking advantage of our people. To benefit our people we need to regain this revenue for ourselves,” said Big Boy.
Comment:  My take on this is that it's a tough question. I don't have a strong position on this issue.

I think it's worth trying, at least. If it works, I'm for it. If it doesn't work, I'm against it.

People probably have done studies on cities and counties that allowed alcohol sales after being "dry." I don't know what those studies say, but I'd use them if I had to formulate a position.

It may be worth doing just to drive Whiteclay out of business. Once the town dries up and disappears, the Lakota can reverse the decision if they wish.

For more on the subject, see Pine Ridge Legalizes Alcohol Sales and Oglala Sioux May Allow Alcohol.

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