Calling Whiteclay in unincorporated Sheridan County “an isolated outpost of misery and hopelessness,” a Nebraska state senator wants to see change.
St. Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks, a Democrat from Lincoln, says too much alcohol is sold to Native Americans on South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Reservation.
She says infant mortality is three times the national average among those Native Americans and alcoholism is as high as 80 percent.
Pansing Brooks and other senators want a drug and alcohol detox center in Whiteclay with a job training program.
“Once people are treated, if they just go back to the same poverty and dire circumstances, it becomes very easy to fall back off the wagon and begin drinking again’” Pansing Brooks tells Nebraska Radio Network. “We’re looking at expansion of economic development opportunities in Whiteclay and all of Sheridan County.”
The senators say they will work to remove abandoned buildings where crime occurs and get the Nebraska State Patrol to increase its presence there to better enforce liquor laws.
“Sales of alcohol to inebriated people, to minors to try to stop the bootlegging that’s going on.”
Pansing Brooks says state patrol hours spent in Whiteclay dropped about 90 percent over the past decade.
“It’s important for the state patrol to participate and lend their services in an area of high need,” she says, adding that the Liquor Control Commission have six dedicated troopers for liquor law enforcement.