Nebraska leaders say they can only do so much with residents of the Pine Ridge Reservation entering the state to get alcohol.
While Whiteclay stores no longer sell beer, people from the Pine Ridge Reservation can still get it somewhere else in Sheridan County.
“The Indian Reservation is a sovereign nation, regardless of whether it was in South Dakota or Nebraska,” Gov. Pete Ricketts told reporters at a recent news conference. “I think what we need to focus on is what can we do here in Nebraska.”
He says the state will continue to support Whiteclay.
“One of the things we did is we put together a grant so that we could demolish some of the abandoned buildings there and fill in some of the basements, because they were places where people would loiter and also they were a safety hazard.”
A legislative task force is working on Whiteclay issues – specifically, improving access to healthcare and job training, and helping those on the Reservation dealing with alcoholism.
Ricketts says those who are struggling have to get treatment before anything else can be fixed.
“We know that the local communities outside of Whiteclay have seen an increase in their liquor store sales,” he says. “So, I think to address the root cause really has to be something that’s done on the Reservation.”
He says he is willing to work with state senators and local leaders to tackle the issue.