Our friend and ally Frank LaMere has helped to organize a week of actions centered on the issues surrounding the city of Whiteclay, Nebraska and the nearby Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
From the Omaha World-Herald’s recent coverage of the issues surrounding Whiteclay through the lens of Nora Boesem, whose family adopted seven children from the Pine Ridge Reservation, several of whom suffer from fetal alcohol syndrome:
“Just across the border from Pine Ridge is Whiteclay, Nebraska, where four stores dispense nearly 4 million cans of beer a year. Most are purchased by residents of the officially dry reservation, where alcoholism rates have been estimated at upward of 80 percent.
While fetal alcohol syndrome is not just a Native American problem, and not just a problem on the Pine Ridge Reservation, it has been labeled as the “tragedy of the Pine Ridge” because of the high rate of incidence there.”
This week’s actions include a prayer vigil outside the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission, a screening of “Sober Indian, Dangerous Indian,” and several lectures at Nebraska Wesleyan University and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Message from Frank:
“I HAVE TALKED WITH MANY WHO HAVE TAKEN TIME FROM THEIR LIVES AND FAMILIES TO FOCUS ON THE TRAGEDY THAT WHITECLAY, NE REMAINS AND TO THE MANIFESTATIONS OF THAT TRAGEDY, INCLUDING SUICIDE AND FETAL ALCOHOL SYNDROME. I WOULD OPINE THAT THE SIMPLE ISSUANCE OF LIQUOR LICENSES THERE, MUCH LESS NEBRASKA’S COMPLICITY, IS AN OBSCENITY IN AND OF ITSELF BUT THAT WILL BE FOR LEGISLATORS AND REGULATORS TO CONSIDER. AS CITIZENS AND CARING PEOPLE WE HAVE A ROLE IN PUTTING THAT QUESTION BEFORE THEM.
ALL WHO HAVE TAKEN TIME TO LEARN ABOUT AND TO EXPERIENCE WHITECLAY HAVE ACQUIRED MORAL AUTHORITY IN MY ESTIMATION BECAUSE THEY HAVE MADE THEMSELVES STAKEHOLDERS IN THE DISCUSSION AND HAVE EVEN BEEN MARGINALIZED FOR SAYING THAT THE DYING SHOULD STOP. I THANK YOU FOR THAT BUT NOW REMIND YOU THAT MORAL AUTHORITY MEANS NOTHING WITHOUT A MORAL IMPERATIVE TO ACT.
THIS WEEK A NUMBER OF US WILL GATHER AT THE LIQUOR CONTROL COMMISSION TO ASK TOUGH QUESTIONS AND TO TAKE A STAND. WE WILL BE MET BY THOSE WHO HAVE TAKEN THEIR OWN STAND, WHO WOULD WRING THEIR HANDS, PAT US ON THE HEAD AND HOPE THAT WE LEAVE. GOING IN TO THE MEETING THAT IS MY PREDICTION. THAT DYNAMIC WOULD BE UNACCEPTABLE TO ME AND SHOULD BE FOR ALL OF YOU.
NOTHING CHANGES UNLESS SOMEONE IS MADE TO FEEL UNCOMFORTABLE, NOTHING CHANGES UNLESS WE MAKE OURSELVES UNCOMFORTABLE. WE WILL BE FIRM, FORTHRIGHT AND RESPECTFUL. WE HAVE ALWAYS BEEN THAT WAY THOUGH LITTLE HAS CHANGED. BUT, TAKE HEART BECAUSE SOMETHING IS DIFFERENT THIS TIME! WHO CAN DISAGREE WITH THAT?
I HAVE TALKED MANY TIMES ABOUT A RECKONING THAT WE ALL WILL FACE IN OUR LIVES OR AFTER WE ARE GONE. AFTER THE RALLIES, THE PRESS CONFERENCES, THE MARCHES, THE POLITICAL POSTURING, THE BACK ROOM DEALS, AND THE GOVERNMENT PRONOUNCEMENTS AND PROCLAMATIONS, ALL THAT WILL REMAIN WILL BE THE TRUTH ABOUT WHITECLAY AND WHERE EACH OF US STOOD IN THE FACE OF DEVASTATION. FUTURE GENERATIONS WILL FORGET THE EFFORTS AND WHAT TRANSPIRED HERE BUT I THINK THEY WILL REMEMBER THE TRUTH AND WHO STOOD WITH IT. I WILL. I CALL YOU TO ACTION. I DO SO WITH GREAT HUMILITY AND WITH THE UNDERSTANDING THAT I KNOW VERY LITTLE AND THAT I TOO, AM PITIFUL!
(Agenda below courtesy Frank LaMere)
Sober Indian | Dangerous Indian Itinerary
February 8th- February 10th, 2016 (NWU=Nebraska Wesleyan)
- Monday, February 8th
- 9-9:50 a.m. NWU – Feature Writing Class – Dr. Jim Schaeffer (Journalism)
- Old Main Building (Room #109)
- 10-10:50 a.m. NWU – American Indian History – Dr. Sandra Mathews-Benham (History)
- Old Main Building (Room #315)
- Noon-12:50 p.m. NWU – Writing & Identity – Dr. Gerise Herndon (English)
- Old Main Building (Room #123)
- Tuesday, February 9th
- 8:30 a.m. Nebraska Liquor Control Commission – Public Comment Period
- 301 Centennial Mall South, 5th Floor
- 10:30 a.m. Oklahoma Capitol – Legislator Visits
- Lunch Open
- 2-2:50 p.m. UNL – Social Justice, Human Rights & the Media Class
- Andersen Hall, Lower Floor (Room #15)
- 2:30-3:40 p.m. NWU – Human Rights Class – Dr. Kelly Bauer (Political Science)
- Old Main (Room #316)
- Dinner Open
- 7 p.m. Sober Indian | Dangerous Indian Film Screening
- Nebraska Wesleyan University, Olin Lecture Hall
- 8:30 p.m. Pete Blacksmith Tribute (Immediately Following Film Screening)
- Wednesday, February 10th
- 7:30 a.m. Prayer Vigil Outside Nebraska Liquor Control Commission Building
- 301 Centennial Mall South (Corner of 14th & M)
- 10 a.m. Oklahoma Capitol – Legislator Visits
- 12:30 p.m. UNL – Native American History
- College of Business, Lower Floor (Room #31)