Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Native Currents. Discussion »
PINE RIDGE, SOUTH DAKOTA - The Strong Heart Warrior Society is serious about the zero tolerance ban of alcohol on the Oglala Sioux Indian Reservation - especially during this New Year's weekend.
Billed as the "December 30th Alcohol Blockade of White Clay, Nebraska," the Strong Heart Warrior Society are "following the steps of honored Lakota warriors Chief Big Foot, Crazy Horse and Rain in the Face by working to protect their Lakota people from the ravages of colonial society that take the form of alcohol and drugs," according to a press release distributed this week.
"We are asking other nations to take the same stand - the Northern Cheyenne, Northern Arapaho, Navajo, Mescalero Apache, Chumash, Six Nations of the Iroquois, and others to support your relatives in the north,"
said Canupa Gluha Mani (Duane Martin Sr.), headsman of Strong Heart.
“We are trying to implement change to save a people being pushed towards extinction.”
The Grandmother societies in Pine Ridge Reservation asked Strong Heart to stop the illegal flow of alcohol into the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation on the Friday before New Year's - one of the busiest days for alcohol sales in the border town of White Clay, Nebraska.
The Strong Heart Warrior Society has taken a zero tolerance stand against alcohol bootleggers and drug dealers who are complicit in the continued destruction of the Lakota people and who prevent a healthy Lakota nation from rising. This zero tolerance ban is defined in Oglala Sioux Tribal Ordinance 88.01.
Last year, Oglala Sioux Tribe Public Safety officers assisted Strong Heart by pulling over vehicles identified as carrying alcohol before it could be resold and distributed within the dry reservation. Over 225 people were arrested. The Oglala Sioux Tribe Public Safety says they will be there in support again this year.
"The first blockade we did four or five years ago, law enforcement fought us tooth and nail," explained Earl Denny (Bad River Ojibwa/Dakota), Strong Heart member and a seventeen-year veteran of law enforcement. On a daily basis Denny has witnessed police stop native people for no reason while they let other cars drive by.
"Its my earnest prayer that one day law enforcement will join us. The grandmothers asked us to do it [the blockade] and it's an honor to protect the people."
While blockade support from both the Oglala Sioux Tribe government and Federal agencies has been tenuous, the fight to stop illegal alcohol sales in White Clay has broad support from numerous Lakota community groups as well as Winnebago activist Frank LaMere and non-natives like Nebraskans for Peace. Martin is quick to praise LaMere and Nebraskans for Peace for taking the issue to Nebraska legislators and officials.
"For Natives, alcohol is your next door neighbor, meth is a part of your family, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) will not lift a finger to stop it,"
"It's the same in Pine Ridge, Wind River, Lame Deer, Montana and the nation's other reservations."
posted December 30, 2011 6:30 am est
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