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Sunday, February 12, 2012


David Newquist

One of many good stories about alcohol abuse on Pine Ridge is the novel "Skins" by Adrian Louis and the film made of it. The protagonist's brother is a Vietnam vet who is bedeviled by alcohol. The protagonist sets the liquor store ablaze. The novel offers no solutions, but it does make quite clear the cause.

The suit probably won't succeed but it might slow down the growth of gangs which are rapidly becoming the only apparent solution left for those on the reservations.


Who is breaking the law? The person selling a legal product in a location it is legal to sell that product or the person who legally purchases the product and then takes it into a location where that product is illegal? It seems to me the lawbreaker is the bootlegger. So arrest those people and sue those people! There cannot be that many roads from White Clay into SD reservations.

larry kurtz

Hey, Barnes: civil suits and torts are not about breaking the law; they are about violations of ethics resulting in wrongful deaths or loss of property.


Bill Fleming

There is precident with the Tobacco companies' settlement isn't there?


Hey Kurtz, I know. However this is a legal product sold in a legal place. Who is unethical? The person selling it or the person bringing it in illegally? Sue the people bootlegging. They are the ones causing the damage.

larry kurtz

This lawsuit will be settled out of court for pennies on the dollar footnoting another chapter of red state collapse. Statehood for the tribes is the only solution.

larry kurtz

Bootleggers were arrested on criminal charges according to the Lakota Times. If they roll over on complicit Whiteclay businesses and distributors, more charges could be filed.

The Feds are in this thing up to their areolae.

Bill Fleming

Alcoholism is a peculiar illness. It's the only disease wherein the problem is also perceived by the afflicted to be the solution. And indeed sometimes it is. Unlike withdrawal from other drugs (wherein the addict feels like they are going to die, but won't) sudden withdrawal from a hard alcohol addiction can, and does kill people.

Donald Pay

I want to bring up the issue of differently evolved metabolic pathways among ethnic groups and races. Alcohol consumption is a more serious health issue among certain ethnic groups due to biology. Europeans and Africans have evolved a greater tolerance for alcohol due to a 5,000 to 6,000 year history of consumption that led to one of several protective mutations being selected for over time. Certainly the levels of alcohol dehydrogenase, which breaks down ethanol, are higher on average in whites than Native Americans. One in three Asians, and particularly Han Chinese, have the ALDH2 allele which causes a flush reaction and leads to a considerably increased chance of cancer of the esophagus when alcohol consumption is high.

Certainly these different biological tolerance levels and the reasons for them were not known over a century ago when alcohol was first introduced to the Lakota, but they have been known for a while now. It does make sense that direct marketing of alcohol to Native Americans is a much more serious public health issue for them than for whites. That elevated level of public health concern might warrant a different approach. Most whites view prohibition of meth as perfectly reasonable due to its public health and societal impacts. Alcohol is probably in the meth category for Native Americans.

Bill Fleming

Great point, Don. I'll have to add that in my experience, those "protective mutations" appear to have skipped over a few of us Irish guys as well.

larry kurtz



D.E. Bishop

The OST has made many improvements on the 4 miles of highway from Pine Ridge village south to Whiteclay. It is the only 4 lane road on the res. It's brightly lit, with wide shoulders and wide sidewalks. OST did all that, not to make it easier for their citizens to get to Whiteclay, but to reduce deaths on that highly trafficked road.

The vultures in Whiteclay know exactly who is buying their booze and where it is being taken to. They know exactly the devastation they are wreaking on those people.

I find it hard to believe that there is not overwhelming pressure brought to bear on the Whiteclay vultures to stop killing people. I find it hard to believe that both SD and NE legislatures did not pass laws long ago to put a stop to those vultures.

Some may say, "So what? Someone else will just start up." So be it. Then we need to stop them next. The fact that a new vulture may launch another alcohol attack on the people of the Pine Ridge, is not a reason to ignore the current one.

Ken Blanchard

Bill: unfortunately, yes. I am guessing that lots of money will be siphoned off of the unethical trade without doing any real good. Most of the money will go to lawyers.


Even vultures serve a purpose. They are not breaking the law. The bootleggers are. Arrest and sue them. If there is that much traffic, it should not be that hard to put a dent in the traffic.

D.E. Bishop

Duggersd said: "Even vultures serve a purpose." What purpose are the Whiteclay vultures serving?

Duggersd said: "They are not breaking the law." Agreed. Do you have any issues whatsover with their morally reprehensible actions? Or should morality/ethicality play no role in our laws?

Bill Fleming

That's the most reprehensible thing I've ever seen you write, DuggerSD, I used to thing you were at least human enough to engage in conversation. Not any more. I'm thinking even the vultures would avoid your company.


These Natives will do whatever it takes to get their alcohol. The fact that they are able to drive only a few miles on a four lane, well-lit highway is much safer than having them drive 50 - 60 miles to another source, and drinking on their way home. There is no palatable solution to this problem.

D.E. Bishop

jhm47, your comment sounds a little racist, "These natives", but I could be wrong on that. I hope you'll fill me in.

So what do you suggest be done? Give up? Say, good luck with that?

I taught school for one year in the early 80s on the Crow Creek Res. I quit after that year because the superintendent was a sick, perverted, abusive, racist, repulsive, stinking old white guy.

But those kids were so talented!! I was blown away by their level of artistic and athletic skill; their intelligence and abilities. I had taught the previous 5 years in small town East River high schools. They were no match at all for the Crow Creek kids. It wasn't even close.

It simply boggles my mind that such wonderful people are discarded as unimportant by the state of SD. What a horrible loss. What a horrible waste. We need such people very much.

Giving up is not at all in the best interests of SD.

larry kurtz

Just saw this bumper sticker on an older Subaru on Cerrillos Road in Santa Fe: "Beer is my spirit animal."

Ken Blanchard

Odd thread. Larry: astonishingly enough, your last comment is the best on the post. I love everything in it, from the old Subaru in Santa Fe, to the punchline. Keep this up and I will have to double your pay.

D.E.B: I am opposed to giving up. I just don't know what to do.


Sorry to disagree with the above poster that gangs are the only solution left to those on the reservation. Any excuse will do I guess. OK, so there are no jobs on the res. Move! People I know who can't find a job in their area move to where there are jobs available; they might not want to move, but they do want to eat and live, so they do what they need to do to feed their family. Why should it be any different for those on the reservation? They have choices. Maybe one of the reasons there are few jobs on the reservations is because of the legalities of operating a business in a "separate nation" with "separate laws" that discourage business development. This is a reason, and it's not being racist to state a truth. Also, even Native American employers have stated that the work ethic on the reservation is not the best, and that also discourages business development. OK, now you can attack me for racism, and I'm sure some of you will, but I'm not. Our gov't has been implicit in destroying the once strong and proud Native American persona by its treatment of them, i.e. making them dependent on gov't largess and handouts. But now it's time for the Native Americans to take charge of their own futures instead of blaming White Clay, gangs, lack of jobs, etc. The problem is not with White Clay; it's with the person doing the drinking.

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