South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Reservation Votes To Legalize Alcohol

The reservation voted to overturn the ban on possessing and selling alcohol. It plans to use the tax revenue for education and treatment of alcohol addiction.

1. The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation is in the southwestern corner of South Dakota and home to the Oglala band of the Lakota tribe.

Kristi Eaton / AP

This Sept. 9, 2012, photo shows the entrance to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.

An 1832 federal law banned the sale of alcohol to Native Americans. The ban ended in 1953 and allowed tribes the option to ban or permit alcohol sales and consumption. Many tribal councils, including Pine Ridge’s, decided to exclude alcohol from their reservations.

In the 1970s, Pine Ridge ended prohibition for two months, but then restored the ban. In 2004, an attempt to legalize alcohol also failed.

A majority of voters on Tuesday approved the measure to legalize alcohol, but the outcome was very close. The result was 1,843 for legalization and 1,683 against it, Associated Press reported.

Carson Walker / AP

In this Aug. 8, 2013, photo, a sign on a building in Whiteclay, NE, urges Pine Ridge Indian Reservation residents to approve the legalization of alcohol sales.

Carson Walker / AP

In this Aug. 8, 2013, photo, a sign stands outside Whiteclay, NE, urging Pine Ridge Indian Reservation residents to oppose the legalization of alcohol sales. Besides agreement on the scourge of alcohol on the Lakota people, opponents and supporters of legalization would like to put the current main suppliers of booze out of business.

5. Four stores in nearby Whiteclay, Nebraska, sell millions of cans of beer, and the Pine Ridge Reservation hopes this new measure will lead them to go out of business.

Carson Walker / AP

One of the businesses in Whiteclay, NE, just south of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

6. Many tribal members live on Whiteclay’s barren streets to avoid arrest on the reservation for being drunk.

Carson Walker / AP

In this Aug. 8, 2013, photo, Crystal Tail (left), Stanley Flying Hawk (center), and Aloysius White Dress are seen Whiteclay, NE, where they live in the town’s barren streets to avoid arrest on the nearby Pine Ridge Indian Reservation for being drunk.

7. With the new measure, the tribe will own and operate stores on the reservation. Profits will be used for education about alcohol abuse and treatment centers, for which there is currently no funding.

Kristi Eaton / AP

This Sept. 8, 2012, photo shows a playground on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.

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