Whiteclay Grocer Alarmed by Beer-Fueled Crime, Keeps Selling Beer

The unincorporated village of Whiteclay, Nebraska, is notorious for selling 3.5 million cans of beer a year to residents of the Pine Ridge Reservation. All that beer available just across the border from a legally dry reservation has fueled public drunkenness and related crime and health problems for decades, but longtime local grocer Lance Moss didn’t decide Whiteclay needed to take some constructive action until his own wife was threatened:

Moss has worked at the store most of his 47 years but something changed when, he says, his wife was accosted.

“The guy was just out in the parking lot trying to get people to give him change,” he said relating the incident. “(My wife) went out and told him to leave and he just went off on her. He followed her into the store. I thought he was going to assault her and I had to get between them.”

Moss took a plea for change to the Sheridan County Commission who forwarded his idea to Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts. Ricketts asked Moss to forma local committee of merchants, government leaders, clergy and law enforcement to brainstorm for solutions.

“He asked us just to sit down in an informal way and come up with some suggestions that we might give to the governor for the improvement of conditions in Whiteclay,” said Sheridan County Commissioner James Krotz who serves on the ad hoc committee [Stewart Huntington, “Merchants Want Chaos in Border Town Brought Under Control,” KOTA-TV, 2016.07.20].

Moss wouldn’t need a committee to stop selling beer. His committee’s recommendations do not include getting out of the business of helping Indians get drunk, or apparently even a ban on single-can sales, which has shown some success in reducing alcohol-related trouble in Omaha, Seattle, and elsewhere.

Addiction is a tricky monster: we can say that addicts at least bear some responsibility for the choices that lead them to their addictions, but we can debate the extent to which an addict can simply choose to end the addiction. Those who facilitate and cash in on addiction have no excuse for continuing their behavior: they are making a living by exploiting weak, vulnerable neighbors who need help, not a cheap can of beer.

20 Responses to Whiteclay Grocer Alarmed by Beer-Fueled Crime, Keeps Selling Beer

  1. mike from iowa

    Didn’t see where they gathered any Indian officials to get their input. I suppose the Indians are the problem, not a part of the solution.

    No doctors, nurses, therapists or even alcohol counselors? Where the hell is Drumpf’s wall? That’ll sure enough solve the problem.

  2. Darin Larson

    You made your bed, Whiteclay, now lie in it.

    When the Native Americans and Pine Ridge residents in particular have reached out to White Clay and Nebraska residents for help with the alcohol issue I recall the response being profits over people. Karma is a b—-h!

  3. I can support the idea of a ban on single can sales of beer – because we shouldn’t be encouraging people to drink in public and/or drink while driving both of which are partially encouraged by single can sales.

    However, I’m not sure there is an easy way out for stores who sell beer. It isn’t as if they can refuse to sell beer to Native Americans or Tribal residents as that is discrimination. So do they just ban all sales of alcohol to make things “fair”? Let’s presume for a moment that this grocer did so… how many other stores would still be selling alcohol? How many new stores would pop up to fill the void?

    I can’t hold those who sell beer responsible for the actions of those who consume it provided the sellers are following all local, state, and federal laws including not selling to minors or to someone who is intoxicated.

  4. Daniel Buresh

    So Darin supports violence against those who are engaging in legal activities because the offenders can’t control their drinking?

  5. Roger Cornelius

    Just where in his comments did Darin say or imply violence against those selling beer in White Clay, Daniel?

  6. Daniel Buresh

    Roger, you are blinded by your “loose morals and family values”. Instead of condemning violence, Darin is suggesting they deserve to reap what they sow. Karma is a b—-…right? I mean, supporting legal activities that others deem immoral is more than enough reason for those people to live with what comes at them…right? You probably support women who are ostracized for having an abortion? You probably support violence against doctors who perform them as well? Karma is a b—-…..right? We know you are a misogynist who hates women that do legal activities with their bodies, so I guess we can put small business owners in that group as well.

  7. bearcreekbat

    If alcohol is still not permitted in Pine Ridge, then one solution would be to establish a permanent sobriety checkpoint for all traffic coming on the road from White Clay to Pine Ridge, sort of like the checkpoints we all must go through when we enter a National Park or cross a national border. A quick trunk and back seat check could reduce the amount of beer smuggled in, and if the driver was not sober, here comes a DUI charge.

    Daniel, I tend to agree with the point that the grocers cannot discriminate against Natives in selling beer and are engaging in a lawful business. But based upon reading many, many posts written by Darin, there is no way he would be advocating violence against anyone with his comments. His arguments ought to be addressed on the merits rather than raising straw men to attack.

  8. mike from iowa

    Shouldn’t heat up so fast, DB. You’re likely to run out of steam before tea time.

  9. Douglas Wiken

    It is not the store that is notorious, it is the reservation which bans alcohol, but whose members buy 3.5 million cans of beer per year. Pine Ridge has something like 30,000 residents. Many of those are under age 18, That is something like 350 cans of beer per person per year.

    Link with some population data etc: http://www.re-member.org/pine-ridge-reservation.aspx

    I have nothing but contempt for those who sell booze which does not carry enough tax to pay even the social cost of car crashes. With all the misery generated by alcohol, sellers have to be amoral to continue selling that poison. And, SD legislators and regulators want it sold on campuses here.

    “Grocery” stores and gas stations should not be allowed to sell any alcoholic beverages.

  10. Darin Larson

    Daniel Buresh, where did I “support violence” against anyone? The Whiteclay businesses that are set up to sell alcohol to Native Americans are legal. But legal doesn’t mean moral or ethical when they know that many of the people they sell to are abusing or will abuse alcohol. They are catering to a vulnerabe population for profits and to heck with the consequences.

    All I’m saying is that the societal ills that stem from alcoholism are finally being felt by the profiteers and enablers who normally are not directly impacted. The people in Pine Ridge live with the consequences every day.

  11. Roger Cornelius

    Daniel, forget to take your meds for your mental health disease this morning? That is quite a reckless tangent you went off on.
    If you paid more attention to Dakota Free Press you would know where I stand on abortion and the support of women that I hold and maintain. Again, that was a totally reckless and irresponsible comment with no legitimacy.
    I believe Darin was simply pointing out the irony of a grocer selling beer and than complaining about an intoxicated man who he sold the beer to. Is that too complicated for you to understand?
    I lived most of my life in Pine Ridge and knew many of the grocers in White Clay and considered them friends, they were good men that treated Native Americans quite well.
    Since I have away from Pine Ridge for nearly 25 years ago something has changed, not just with grocers, but with their patrons. Not being a beer drinker I never had a deal with the problems that exist today.
    Darin didn’t advocate violence toward anyone, but you have. Obviously you have a problem with women that have abortions and the doctors that provide them. If anything, your vile comments suggest that you are a closet misogynist.
    Only a tea party member could make the stretch from White Clay beer sales to abortion.
    Even as a tribal member, I don’t pretend to have the White Clay solution other than following Cory’s advice that if your wife is threatened and Sheridan County cops can’t or won’t provide protection, they best get out of business. I know I would.

  12. Another great liberal viewpoint of not having personal responsibility. Blame the guy selling and ask him to stop? Then it will all end? Stop the selling of liquor and guns and all liquor and gun problems will go away? But yet most of you on here support a national party that wants to legalize marijuana? The hypocrisy is laughable! Maybe stop dumping boatloads of Federal money into reservations and then they won’t have money to buy liquor? I am not endorsing that, but it makes as much sense as blaming the stores selling it!

    Any stories coming on the DNC and the Party Chair rigging things for Hillary? You complain about gerrymandering, when your own party does it in a slightly different way! I also get a kick out of non-believers commenting on religion as if they know what they are talking about. Thanks for all humor on here guys and gals!!

  13. Roger Cornelius

    It is laughable to think that those “boatloads” of federal money coming to the reservation contribute to the problems in White Clay.
    Very few dollars, if any go to individuals, federal dollars go to support the staffs and maintenance of numerous programs and government buildings throughout the reservation
    If these “boatloads” of money went to individuals, Pine Ridge wouldn’t be one of the poorest counties in the country.

  14. Matt from SD

    Responsible drinking starts with responsible selling. There is nothing responsible about annually selling 4 million cans of high octane (4 standard drinks per ‘beer’), single can, cold, ready-to-drink malt liquor – in a town of 12 people. South Dakota is paying tens of millions of dollars each year related directly to Whiteclay, NE. Topping the list includes costs of law enforcement, adjudication, prosecuting, defending, incarcerating, social services for families and children, medical and psychological costs – and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) impacting 1 in ever 4 babies born on Pine Ridge. FASD causes permanent brain damage and other physical problems – requiring lifetime medical and social services. The drain on the SD budget from irresponsible selling of alcohol in Whiteclay, NE is tremendous – well into the tens of millions each year. Nebraska only receives about $400,000 annually from Whiteclay alcohol sales.

    So, if Nebraska legalized marijuana and licensed 4 gigantic marijuana dispensaries on the SD border where there is NO law enforcement to sell exclusively to South Dakotans, what would we do about that? Whether or not people agree with the tribe’s prohibition policy on alcohol, I would hope we all respect the tribe’s sovereign rights to determine their own policies.

    Ironically, Nebraska is suing Colorado to recoup costs from marijuana crossing its border. According to Nebraska Law Enforcement Officials, one in five cars coming into Nebraska from Colorado is carrying marijuana (legally purchased in Colorado).

    Yet, Nebraska sees no problems licensing 4 large liquor stores to sell exclusively to residents of the ‘dry’ Pine Ridge Reservation, openly undermining the tribe’s sovereign decision on alcohol sale and possession.

    In fact, according to open meeting minutes, the Task Force appointed by the Governor of Nebraska suggested a lawsuit against South Dakota to recoup the costs of arresting and incarcerating Pine Ridge residents who get drunk and pass out in Whiteclay.

    Recent news coverage from Nebraska on Whiteclay:


  15. Ironic that one of Cory’s posts today includes the phrase “Republicans Change Subject”. It seems to be a pattern.

  16. mike from iowa

    More simplistic non-sense from Stump Drumpf. Plus the usual being off point some more.

    How did you miss getting illegal immigrants and abortion in your screed?

  17. Roger Cornelius

    Here’s the thing Stum, I did not say that beer should not be sold in White Clay. I do know that if I was in the beer selling business down there and my wife was threatened with violence and there was no protection for my wife, I would close up shop. The grocer must be a republican, he’d put his wife in danger to make buck.

    Now, let’s be as clear as possible about the DNC emails. Wasserman-Schultz will step down after the convention, I thought she have stepped down last week. During the opening of the convention today the DNC issued a public apology to the delegates which was the right thing to do.
    If anyone has evidence that Hillary had any direct role in this scandal they should damn well provide it.

    Today it is being reported that the FBI has joined the investigation of the Russian cyber attack on DNC as they should be.

    The bigger scandal that could out of this scandal is Who wanted or helped the Russians attack the DNC email account.

    Donald Trump admires and has a cozy relationship with the communist leader Putin, the media is reporting that Trump is likely to have ordered the hit.

  18. Paul Seamans

    The State of Nebraska is too busy interdicting marijuana coming in from Colorado to do any worrying about Whiteclay. I blame Colorado.

  19. barry freed

    The State of Nebraska is too busy seizing cars and cash of those with marijuana coming in from Colorado to do any worrying about criminals in White Clay, they have no assets to steal.

    Can’t blame Colorado, it is a late bloomer, only 3 years enlightened to the Civil Rights issue of pot, but Medical Marijuana has been with us for over 10 years. You should ask yourself, why in ten years, hasn’t the sky fallen, other than for LE seizures and nearly every Amendment to the Constitution?

  20. It’s interesting to me not only the massive quantity of alcohol purchased, but knowing how AI populations in South Dakota are so bifurcated. That is, there’s a predominance of either alcohol abuse or alcohol abstinence; South Dakota’s American Indian population has the highest percentage of any demographic who abstain.

    I believe we should focus on spreading that culture of abstinence within Pine Ridge. Better to decrease demand than attempt to remove supply.