“I know of no other instance in history where a great nation has so shamefully violated its oath. Our country must forever bear the disgrace and suffer the retribution of its wrongdoing. Our children's children will tell the sad story in hushed tones, and wonder how their fathers dared so to trample on justice and trifle with God.”
-Henry Benjamin Whipple, chairman of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) on the taking of Lakota land
“They made us many promises, more than I can remember, but they kept only one; they promised to take our land, and they took it.”
-Red Cloud, Oglala Lakota Chief
Since the signing of the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868 and the creation of the Great Sioux Reservation, renegade whites have operated illegal “whiskey ranches” at the location of present day Whiteclay, Nebraska.
In 1882 U.S. President Chester A. Arthur decreed by executive order a fifty-square-mile buffer zone in Nebraska south of the Pine Ridge Agency in South Dakota at the urging of the U.S. Indian Agent and Oglala Lakota elders, for the protection of reservation residents from illegal whiskey peddlers operating in this area.
With the Dawes Act of 1887 and again with the dividing of the Great Sioux Reservation in 1889, the U.S. Congress enacted legislation incorporating this buffer zone, known as the White Clay Extension, into the boundaries of the Pine Ridge reservation. The United States Congress legislatively mandated that the Whiteclay extension could only be removed from the reservation and control of the Lakota upon a specific finding that it was not needed for both the use and protection of the Lakota on the reservation.
In 1904 President Theodore Roosevelt by executive order placed 49 of the 50 square miles of the White Clay Extension into the public domain, precipitating a land grab by white settlers, without representing that the original need for the buffer zone had ceased to exist. These acts were carried out over protests by Oglala Lakota elders, the Indian Agent and other concerned white residents of the area that the need indeed remained. Since the Whiteclay extension was incorporated into the Pine Ridge reservation by 2 acts of Congress, Theodore Roosevelt’s executive order was illegal.
Illegal sales of alcohol to Pine Ridge residents began almost immediately and continued until the mid-1950s through unlicensed bootleggers operating in the unincorporated village of Whiteclay, Nebraska, which lies on the White Clay Extension at the border of the reservation and within easy walking distance of the reservation’s largest town.
In 1953 the law banning alcohol sales to Native Americans was repealed. The State of Nebraska immediately began issuing liquor licenses to Whiteclay bootleggers.
Today there are four off-sale beer retailers in Whiteclay. These retailers routinely violate Nebraska liquor law by selling beer to minors and intoxicated persons, permitting on-premise consumption of beer in violation of restrictions placed on off-sale-only licenses, and exchanging beer for sexual favors.
The vast majority of those who purchase beer in Whiteclay have in fact no legal place to consume it, since possession and consumption of alcoholic beverages on the Pine Ridge Reservation remain illegal under tribal law.
With an estimated alcoholism rate of 65%; one of the highest rates of alcohol related deaths in the western hemisphere; and 1 in 4 children born with fetal alcohol syndrome, it should be clear that alcohol is one of the greatest contributors to the ongoing genocide of the Lakota people in Pine Ridge.
Please join us signing this petition to extend the border of Pine Ridge to include the Whiteclay extension. An executive order by the president to do so would effectively make alcohol sales in Whiteclay illegal. According to former South Dakota senator James Abourezk, “President Obama could right a century of wrongs by re-establishing the buffer zone."