Lakota Country Times: Oglala Sioux Tribe to vote on liquor again

Badlands in the northern portion of the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Photo by D. Luchsinger / National Park Service

Alcohol Vote Again: May 17
By Tom Crash
Lakota Country Times Correspondent

PINE RIDGE RESERVATION – On February 17 the tribal council voted 10-6 to conduct a referendum on alcohol sales, possession and use on Pine Ridge Reservation. A timeline has been established with the reservation wide election set for May 17.

“We had a legal election two years ago, and it passed now we don’t know what happened to all of the election results. Do people even trust the referendum process any more?” said Garfield Steele, past council representative from Wounded Knee District and current district chair.

"During the last referendum, I voted no but this time I’m for it,' Steele said. We’ve proposed a number of economic ventures and they get voted down, we need the revenue, it’s something we need.”

In August of 2013, a referendum was conducted on the legalization of alcohol on Pine Ridge Reservation. Solid support from Pine Ridge Village pushed the pro-legalization votes over the top. In addition to legal attempts to stop the implementation of the referendum results, opponents cited election irregularities -- included adding five additional polling places halfway through the election day

“This referendum shouldn’t even happen, we don’t need it,” said Wounded Knee resident Linda Hollow Horn. “Alcoholism is really high on the reservation, we abuse it way too much.”

Voters lists will be posted at the district service centers on April 8 and April 18 is the deadline to challenge individuals’ right to vote. Absentee ballots may be requested starting May 3. An orientation for judges, tellers and monitors will take place May 16.

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Polls will open at 9am and close on 7pm on referendum day, May 17. The unofficial election results will be released on May 18, with official election results released on May 25.

“We’ve heard that there are some people who plan to file an injunction against conducting the referendum,” said Pat Ross, council representative from Porcupine, “Others think it will fail. The council voted to take it to a vote of the people.”

The OST Election Commission is looking for judges, tellers and monitors for the referendum election, for information call (605) 867-2266 or (605) 381-1005.

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