Four Nebraska beer stores accused of fueling the alcoholism that pervades the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota have been denied state liquor licenses.
The Nebraska Liquor Control Commission has voted 3-0 to deny the licenses to the Arrowhead Inn, the Jumping Eagle Inn, D&S Pioneer Service, and State Line Liquor, all located in tiny Whiteclay along the Nebraska-South Dakota state line.
The four stores sell the equivalent of 3.5 million cans of beer a year, much of which seems to find its way across the state line into the Indian reservation, which officially bans the sale and use of alcohol.
The four stores only sell beer. They can appeal the ruling.
Whiteclay is an unincorporated village of fewer than 10 residents long accused of looking the other way as beer makes it way from Nebraska to South Dakota.
All the stores had liquor licenses. Under mounting pressure, the state liquor commission had required the stores to reapply for their licenses. The commission had openly expressed worries that law enforcement couldn’t adequately monitor illegal alcohol transactions.
The Sheridan County Board had recommended the licenses be renewed, claiming law enforcement was adequate. The liquor store owners have argued they operate legal businesses and that law enforcement has improved over the years. They also say denying them liquor licenses will simply shift the problem elsewhere.
The Nebraska Liquor Control Commission held a lengthy hearing earlier this month at the Capitol.