NE: Whiteclay problems draw new scrutiny from Nebraska lawmakers
The Washington Times
By Grant Schulte, Associated Press
September 25, 2016
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) – A recent death and other problems in Whiteclay are drawing new scrutiny from Nebraska lawmakers, who plan to announce an initiative to address persistent issues when they visit the tiny village later this week.
Senators say they’re looking seriously at ways to improve conditions in Whiteclay, which sells millions of cans of beer each year on the border of South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, where alcohol is banned.
Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks of Lincoln said she organized the trip to show fellow lawmakers the conditions in the ramshackle town dotted with abandoned buildings, garbage-strewn streets and Native Americans lying passed-out on sidewalks. Lawmakers and officials with the Nebraska Public Service Commission will tour the area on Wednesday before releasing details about the new initiative. A legislative hearing will take place next month at the Capitol.
“It’s important that more people go up there and understand what’s going on,” Pansing Brooks said. “There’s a public health crisis in our own backyard.”
Whiteclay’s four beer stores sold the equivalent of 3.5 million cans of beer last year despite having only a dozen residents. Alcoholism is a widespread problem on the reservation, where an estimated one in four children is born with fetal alcohol syndrome.
Sen. Roy Baker of Lincoln said he has never seen Whiteclay firsthand but is joining the group to learn more about the village and brainstorm possible solutions.