August 14, 2013

Pine Ridge legalizes alcohol sales

Vote to legalize alcohol on SD's Pine Ridge passesNative Americans on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation--home to some of the highest rates of unemployment, domestic abuse and suicide in Indian Country--have voted to end prohibition and legalize alcohol so the tribe can use the profits for education and treatment.

A majority of voters on Tuesday approved the measure, but the outcome was left hanging because of 438 challenged ballots that were more than the difference between the yes and no votes.

Francis Pumpkin Seed, Oglala Sioux Tribe Election Commission chairman, said workers on Wednesday checked each of those ballots to confirm they were cast by enrolled members. After that process was complete, the result was 1,871 for legalization and 1,679 against it, he said.

"Life will change now as we know it," said an elated Larry Eagle Bull, one of nine tribal council members who put the issue to a public vote. "This is a new era we're in. We've got to remember now we lived dry for 100 years and it was proven that prohibition didn't work. We're in new territory now."

Under the law, the tribe will own and operate stores on the reservation, and profits will be used for education and detoxification and treatment centers, for which there is currently little to no funding.

"Now we can finally get the help we need," said Eagle Bull, himself a reformed alcoholic. "Only good can come from it."
Comment:  This vote is a reaction to the voluminous alcohol sales to Indians just over the border in Whiteclay, Nebraska, of course.

For more on the subject, see Whiteclay Meeting Lasts Two Minutes and Oglala Sioux May Allow Alcohol.

Below:  Whiteclay.

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