ACTIVISTS PLAN WHITECLAY MARCH FOR SATURDAY

Posted 11 months ago

By John Axtell

Whiteclay-1Anti-alcohol activists say they will hold a peaceful march, led by the women of the Oglala Lakota Nation, from Pine Ridge to Whiteclay Saturday at noon.

Activist Olowan Martinez told the Digital Journal website that marchers are encouraged to bring pictures, banners, and crosses to represent loved ones lost to alcohol-related causes. Alcohol is banned on the Pine Ridge Reservation but is sold at 4 stores in Whiteclay…which abuts the reservation.

Oglala Sioux Tribal President Bryan Brewer, the Black Hills Sioux Nation Treaty Council, Deep Green Resistance, Nebraskans for Peace, and Alcohol Justice are all scheduled to take part.

Nebraska State Patrol Lt Jamey Balthazor says the agency expects the march to remain peaceful and doesn’t plan to have any additional troopers on the scene.

That wasn’t the case earlier this summer after activists set up a Zero Tolerance Camp just across the state and reservation border from Whiteclay and tensions intensified at protests in Whiteclay.

Activists successfully blocked beer deliveries…with the distribution companies accusing them of vandalism, threatening drivers and other employees, and even firing on the trucks with pellet guns or similar weapons.

The activists, in turn, accused the distributors and Whiteclay store owners of paying intoxicated customers to confront the beer opponents armed with bats and fireworks.

Lt Balthazor says things in Whiteclay have since calmed down, possibly as attention turned to tribal vote earlier this month that saw legalization of alcohol on the reservation pass with about 54% of Oglala Sioux members who voted supporting the change.

Lt Balthazor says things have been so peaceful recently that a beer distributor who’d stopped shipping to Whiteclay out of fear of injury to its workers has resumed send trucks there. During the stoppage, the store owners had to make arrangement to pick up their beer in Rushville.