I am Lakota and an enrolled member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe in South Dakota. I serve as the president of the Organization for Native American Unity. Our headquarters are located on the Rosebud Reservation in Rosebud. The purpose of this letter is to voice my support for the sale of alcohol on the Oglala Sioux Tribe Reservation, regulated by the OST.
I advocated for Rosebud to do the same when I was on the tribal council, and I do to this day. Whether the tribe sells it or not, our people who want to drink, will drink and the social ills specified in the lawsuit against beer companies will exist (maybe not the criminal acts in Whiteclay, Neb., i.e., sex and porn and EBT for booze), whether the tribe sells it or not.
In my mind, the question is whether the tribe will see revenue from the use and abuse of alcohol.
My point is this: If the tribe regulates it and sells it 2 miles closer to Pine Ridge than Whiteclay, the revenue from those five million cans of beer cans sold a year at $1 per can will go into the tribal coffers and can then be utilized to address these social ills rather than benefitting the owners of the establishments in Whiteclay, who presently take all the revenue and leave the OST to address these issues alone.
Take that $5 million in OST revenue and put it into prevention, awareness, rec centers for kids in every district and community, put it into a detox facility, expand treatment, supplement LIEHAP, create scholarship funds, promote higher education, advocacy, peer mentoring, create an economy and economic development (it starts by keeping the money on the rez with the tribal and rez businesses).
Then, when Whiteclay establishments go belly up, and it becomes a ghost town, buy it out for pennies on the dollar and revisit the idea of banning sales (but maybe by then OST would gain control of the use to abuse illness that is at the center of the social ills named in the lawsuit that are so pervasive today).
Draft a five-year plan (pro’s and con’s, keeping the revenues in OST coffers, vs. allowing Whiteclay business owners to continue as they are now) and take it to the districts. Let the people vote by referendum.
And that’s what I would propose to the OST Council and administration and people, then duck watching for flying shoes.