Demonstrators aimed to block alcohol from crossing the Nebraska border into the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation on New Year's Eve. Vowing "We will live up to our obligation once again and be idle no more," Oglala Lakota Women and allies planned to line up at the border of Pine Ridge and Whiteclay, Neb. to keep alcohol off the reservation, where it is illegal, organizers said.
By the time 15 or so protestors arrived at 9 p.m., two of the four liquor stores in White Clay already had shut their doors, and a third closed at about 10 p.m. Only one store stayed open until midnight, the Lincoln Journal Star reported.
Organizer Olowan Martinez told the Journal Star that the Oglala Sioux Tribe's police department and the new tribal president, Bryan Brewer, have set up an alcohol checkpoint between Whiteclay and the reservation, which has helped.
Martinez said protestors want to "save the lives of our relatives who cannot defend themselves against the harms of alcohol due to the inability of the state of Nebraska to properly police illegal retailer alcohol sales and activities in the town of Whiteclay."
Two-thirds of Pine Ridge Reservation adults suffer from alcoholism, organizers say.
"We do this to prevent abuses of all forms from reaching into our sacred homes and to show our future generations how to protect our homeland by any means necessary," Martinez said.
Organizers say retailers help smuggle alcohol into the Pine Ridge Reservation; alcohol is traded for sex; reservation residents loiter at alcohol retailers with open containers; the Nebraska Liquor Commission is unable to stop illegal retail activity; alcohol has been a factor in recent homicides and physical violence; alcohol is sold to minors and drunks and 25% of Pine Ridge youth suffer from fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.
Martinez helped organize a similar protest in August, when participants blockaded a road between Whiteclay and the reservation to draw attention to the situation.