August 16th, 2013 Last Updated on: August 16th, 2013
In a public referendum, the tribal members on Pine Ridge Reservation have voted to end the ban on alcohol. The vote was 1,843 in favor and 1,678 against.
Sales of alcohol off the reservation has become big business. Millions of cans of beer are sold in Whiteclay, which is just off the reservation.
Supporters believe lifting the ban will generate much needed revenue on the reservation.
According to the New York Times:
Those supporting the initiative said opening shops that sold alcohol on the reservation would allow the tribe to keep a share of Pine Ridge’s money on the reservation that is now being spent in liquor stores in towns bordering it. Further, they argued that the tax proceeds from alcohol sales could be used to bolster the Oglala Sioux’s alcohol treatment programs. It remained unclear how much money allowing alcohol sales would produce for the reservation, which is one of the poorest places in the country and has unemployment rates estimated at more than 80 percent.
“Not legalizing it is just the status quo,” said Robert Ecoffey, 58, who worked in law enforcement on the tribe and served as a superintendent for the Bureau of Indian Affairs. “You have all of the issues and none of the resources to help deal with it.”
Will this help the people on the Pine Ridge Reservation?