Oglala Sioux Tribal attorney Tom White plans to urge the Tribal Council to refile a half-billion dollar lawsuit over alcohol sales in Whiteclay and their impact on the Pine Ridge Reservation in state court.
A federal judge Monday dismissed the tribe’s suit against the 4 Whiteclay stores with liquor licenses, the wholesalers that serve them, and the brewers of the beer…saying that while the Whiteclay sales are obviously linked to problems on the reservation, the case involved no issues of federal law.
Critics say Whiteclay profits from alcoholism on the impoverished reservation, which bans alcohol. The unicorporated community with about a dozen residents sold the equivalent of 4.3 million 12-ounce cans of beer last year.
Oglala Sioux Tribal councilman James Toby Big Boy says the council knew the federal lawsuit was a long-shot, and says will now discuss what to do next. He plans to introduce a proposal to have tribal members vote on legalizing alcohol on the reservation…even though all past legalization measures have failed.