And as this grass-roots movement for community revitalization moves forward comes word that a hearing to decide if the stores in Whiteclay will have their liquor licenses renewed has been postponed until next month.
Whiteclay Nebraska has a decades-long reputation as the primary alcohol supplier for residents of South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Reservation. But the protests by Oglala Sioux tribal members and their supporters calling for the revocation of the liquor licenses held by the town’s liquor stores may be at an end.
Bruce BonFleur is director of the Lakota Hope ministry in Whiteclay. He’s also on the Nebraska Governor’s Task Force to find solutions for the town. The group meets regularly and includes the beer store owners.
“At one of the meetings one of the beer stores owners blurted out …probably 7 or 8 months ago now…‘Gosh…I just need to sell ’, BonFleur recalls. “So when he said that I said…‘if you ever do get to the point where you really want to sell and have a figure come see me. I don’t have money bags but we’ll see what we can work out. We’ll try. We have connections and maybe we can do something.”
A representative of the store owners came to BonFleur last Fall resulting in the creation of Whiteclay Redevelopment – a registered low-profit, limited liability corporation in Nebraska. The organization’s goals are to buy out the liquor stores, revitalize the town of Whiteclay and promote the Oglala Sioux nation.
Nebraska state senator Tom Brewer is an Oglala Sioux tribal member. He’s been involved with several meetings between BonFleur and the Whiteclay liquor store owners.
“It’s been very, very difficult,” Brewer observes. “A lot of negative mail. A lot of negative e-mail. A lot of negative voicemail. And I think they’re just worn down. They’re tired of the constant confrontation. They’re ready to turn a page and do something different in their lives.”
A sale price hasn’t been given but the Whiteclay Development group is seeking $6.3 million in donations.
None of the store owners would comment on the proposal. But Jason Schwarting of Arrowhead Inn did confirm that all of the stores are, in fact, for sale.