When traveling to Pine Ridge, South Dakota, you will hear about a town nearby called Whiteclay. Prior to May, if you asked someone to describe Whiteclay they would tell you about a town with a population of 14 people, 4 liquor stores, and 12,000 bottles of beer sold daily.
Because of this city being across the street from Pine Ridge, alcohol greatly influenced the Lakota community. As a result, 80% were unemployed, life expectancy was approximately 50 years of age, and 70% of girls were sexually assaulted by the age of 14.
We often think we need to travel to see such distress. Boarded up windows, shingles held on by threads, paint hardly present… what felt like worlds away was only 3 hours from places we call home. These are our own people.
It took the testimony of three individuals to bring an end to the alcohol in the city. Through the proof of their stories and experiences, the liquor stores’ license renewals were denied in March of 2017.
This has opened the opportunity for businesses to move in as alcohol moves out. With other companies alike, we want to partner with the Lakota people to continue to bring development to the city.