Near reser­va­tion, beer, liquor sales up

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NEWS -

WHITECLAY, Neb. — Some Ne­braska com­mu­ni­ties near an Amer­i­can In­dian reser­va­tion where al­co­hol is banned have seen liquor sales boom since beer stores shut­tered at a tiny nearby vil­lage that long served as the reser­va­tion’s wa­ter­ing hole, ac­cord­ing to fig­ures from the Ne­braska Liquor Con­trol Com­mis­sion.

The agency asked for data from dis­trib­u­tors af­ter or­der­ing an end to beer sales in the com­mu­nity of Whiteclay in April. The fig­ures show that over­all beer sales in north­west­ern Ne­braska coun­ties have de­clined, but spe­cific towns have seen liquor sales more than triple be­tween April and June, the Lin­coln Jour­nal Star re­ported.

Whiteclay, on the Ne­braska bor­der, is next to the Pine Ridge Reser­va­tion in South Dakota. Rushville, a town about 20 miles south of Whiteclay, re­ported sales of more than 3,700 gal­lons of beer in April and nearly 13,000 gal­lons of beer in June.

Whiteclay had drawn crit­i­cism for sell­ing al­co­hol so close to the reser­va­tion, at­tract­ing dozens of peo­ple a day who drank, passed out and some­times fought in pub­lic. Sup­port­ers of clos­ing its beer stores ar­gued that nearby com­mu­ni­ties with larger pop­u­la­tions and the abil­ity to pass lo­cal liquor or­di­nances could bet­ter po­lice al­co­hol sales.

“We haven’t heard the com­plaints” from those larger com­mu­ni­ties about the va­grancy, vi­o­lence and drunken be­hav­ior that used to cover Whiteclay, Ne­braska Liquor Con­trol Com­mis­sion Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Hobert Rupe said Thurs­day.

Op­po­nents of the com­mis­sion’s de­ci­sion said it hurts the Whiteclay stores’ own­ers and won’t help prob­lems with al­co­hol on the reser­va­tion.

“Clos­ing the stores is not … solv­ing the prob­lem, clearly,” said Rushville Mayor Chris Heiser. “The good peo­ple in Pine Ridge are still go­ing to get their al­co­hol.”

The liquor store own­ers in Whiteclay have chal­lenged the clos­ings. The Ne­braska Supreme Court has a hear­ing sched­uled for Aug. 29.

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