Kevin Abourezk: Panel discusses alcohol sales in Whiteclay
"A Winnebago business leader and attorney called massive beer sales in Whiteclay and alcoholism on the nearby Pine Ridge Indian Reservation symptoms of greater economic problems on the reservation.

"If you want to do something about Whiteclay, put a factory in Whiteclay," said Lance Morgan, president and CEO of Hochunk Inc. "Create a different environment where people don't run to get away from the problem."

He suggested solutions in Whiteclay -- where four beer stores sell more than 4 million cans of beer a year -- during a panel discussion Wednesday at Bellevue University.

The discussion featured Omaha Creighton Prep High School President Tom Merkel, Oglala Sioux Tribe President Theresa Two Bulls, who joined via video conferencing, and activists.

Videos produced by students at Red Cloud High School near Pine Ridge and at Creighton Prep were shown during the event.

This session, the Nebraska Legislature passed a bill that set aside $25,000 for a grant program for economic development, law enforcement and health-related programs near Whiteclay.

Morgan said poverty is the greatest challenge in Pine Ridge, where jobs are scarce and rampant alcoholism is fed by hopelessness. He said shutting down beer stores in Whiteclay would only move the problem as tribal members bought their beer elsewhere."

Get the Story:
Kevin Abourezk: Winnebago business leader: Poverty at heart of Whiteclay debacle (The Lincoln Journal Star 4/8)

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