Whiteclay is an unincorporated village (referred to as Pine Ridge by the Census Bureau) that lies on the Nebraska/South Dakota border; Whiteclay has a population of 14.
Whiteclay's history has always been tied to that of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, which is on the South Dakota side of the border. When the boundaries of the Pine Ridge reservation were originally drawn, a 4-square mile tract of land in Nebraska was included within the reservation, which included the town of Whiteclay. However, an act signed by Theodore Roosevelt removed the Nebraska land from the reservation in 1905; the legality of this act has since been questioned. Ever since, Whiteclay has been notable largely for the vast quantities of alcohol sold to residents of the legally dry Pine Ridge reservation.
The status of Whiteclay became a volitile political issue in the late 1990s, as a pair of unsolved murders in 1999 led to a series of marches and rallies, led by various activist groups (including the American Indian Movement (AIM) and Nebraskans for Peace) demanding that the state of Nebraska revoke the area's liquor licenses and increase law enforcement in the area. This law enforcement situation is exacerbated by the fact that the nearest law enforcement (in Pine Ridge, South Dakota) has no legal authority over Whiteclay, and the nearest Nebraska law enforcement is in Gordon, which is about 20 miles to the south. As of January 2005, Whiteclay's liqour stores remain open, ensuring that it will continue to be a major Nebraska political issue for the forseeable future.
Web Sites and Links
"Legal opinion: State can't do much to stop beer sales in Whiteclay"Associated Press article appearing in the Grand Island Independent. Reports a decision by the state attorney general that Nebraska's Liquor Control Commission doesn't have authority to ban alcohol sales near Indian reservations, after Nebraskans for Peace and tribal leaders complained to state officials about problems caused by alcohol in Whiteclay and the nearby Pine Ridge reservation.
Another Man's Poison: Profit and Loss in White ClayTranscript of a story about the effects of alcohol sales by White Clay businesses to Pine Ridge reservation residents, which originally aired on the "Statewide" TV news program produce by Nebraska Educational Telecommunications.
Camp JusticeDetailed account of protests in Whiteclay by Native American activists during summer and fall, 1999. The demonstrators were protesting the government's unwillingness to investigate the murders of two Lakota men on the road between Whiteclay and the Pine Ridge reservation, as well as the fact that the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission wouldn't stop the sale of liquor by Whiteclay businesses. Includes timeline, press releases, and photographs.
Nebraska StatePaper.com - "Group Rallies For Whiteclay Bill"Short article about a rally to support passage of a bill that would prohibit liquor sales within 5 miles of Native American reservations. The primary focus of debate is Whiteclay and the nearby Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota.
Whiteclay, Nebraska: The Town That Booze BuiltArticle published in Native Americas Journal, describing the problems caused by local liquor stores selling alcohol to residents of the nearby Pine Ridge reservation, observed by visiting tribal officials.