Members of the Nebraska Liquor Commission take up an issue which has perplexed state officials for years: how to stem the flow of beer from tiny Whiteclay to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.
The Nebraska Liquor Control Commission is requiring four beer stores to re-apply for liquor licenses. All are accused of allowing or outright helping as much as three-and-a-half million cans of beer a year to cross the state line and get to the Indian reservation where alcohol is banned.
An attorney for the four has charged Gov. Pete Ricketts is exerting political pressure to deny the stores a liquor license, an accusation Ricketts flatly denies.
“I have exerted no political pressure on anyone with regard to how they should do their job,” Ricketts tells reporters.
The Arrowhead Inn, State Line Liquor, D&S Pioneer Service, and Jumping Eagle Inn have been summoned to appear at a hearing before the liquor commission. They have long been accused of contributing to the alcoholism on the Indian reservation, blamed for wide-spread poverty and other social ills among the Oglala Lakota tribe.
The store owners counter they are running legal businesses and argue forcing them to close would do nothing to address the problems plaguing Pine Ridge.
Ricketts says the process should be allowed to play out.
“Again, this is why we have laws,” Ricketts says. “We have laws to follow. If we follow the laws, it will come to whatever outcome has been deemed to be lawful through that process.”
The Attorney General’s Office also has brought accusations against the stores, accusing them of selling to those they know are transporting it across the state line. In all, the AG office has filed 22 citations against the stores.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:50]