Apr 24, 2017 - Commission Votes to Deny Liquor Licenses to Whiteclay “Skid Row of the Plains”

Lincoln, NE – On April 19th, the Nebraska State liquor board voted 3-0 to deny liquor licenses to beer stores located in Whiteclay, an unincorporated village of 14 people. It is often referred to as the “Skid Row of the Plains”.

Whiteclay, which is 200 feet from the border of the Pine Ridge reservation, consists of just four beer stores, has long been at the center of controversy and a target for on-going protests.

The beer stores sell, on average, 4.5 million cans of beer annually to primarily citizens of the Pine Ridge reservation where alcohol sales are illegal.

The late Russell Means leads a protest against Whiteclay in 1999

According to, the documentary Battle for Whiteclay, “In 1882 U.S. President Chester A. Arthur decreed 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.

In 1889, and again in 1890, the U.S. Congress enacted legislation incorporating this buffer zone, known as the White Clay Extension, into the boundaries of the reservation. This land was designated by Congress to remain a part of the reservation until such time as its protective function is no longer needed.

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.

According to the Omaha World-Herald, “Beer sales in Whiteclay have been blamed for numerous problems on the reservation, including rampant alcoholism, alcohol-related crimes and high levels of fetal alcohol syndrome that are estimated to affect one in four children.”

The four beer stores are, the Arrowhead Inn, the Jumping Eagle Inn, D&S Pioneer Service and State Line Liquor.

For more on the history of Whiteclay and the fight to shut it down watch Battle for Whiteclay below

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