The Oglala Sioux Tribe filed a $500 million lawsuit on February 9 against Anheuser-Busch, Molson, Coors, Pabst, Miller Brewers, retailers and distributors of alcohol sold in Whiteclay, Nebraska.
The lawsuit claims that Whiteclay, which sits on the border of the Pine Ridge Reservation and sells nearly five million cans of beer annually, is responsible for the alcohol consumed on the reservation as well as the collateral damages caused to Pine Ridge.
The Tribe's attorney said the Oglala Sioux Tribe desired damages to assist the tribe in creating programs benefitting neonatal care, children affected by alcoholism, treatment centers for alcoholism, and other secondary costs currently absorbed by the Tribe.
The Oglala Sioux Pine Ridge Reservation is a dry reservation where possession and sales of alcohol is illegal.
Nebraskans for Peace President Mark Vasina, has been following the progress of Whiteclay since the late 90s and created a documentary entitled “The Battle for Whiteclay.” Vasina alleges many problems are caused by a town with a population of just 11 residents. Vasina reports that in addition to millions of cans of beer that are sold, there are also instances of trading beer for intercourse, food stamp debit cards, and selling to minors.
Vasina also alleges some stores could possibly be acting as distributors. “We also know that bootleggers come after hours and buy cases of beer, they take them back to the reservation and sell them. That is illegal in Nebraska because it is a form of distribution. It is illegal for a retail store to act as a distributor,” Vasina said.