'Alcohol's going to happen' – Columbus Telegram

PINE RIDGE, S.D. — They sit on this stoop beneath a piercing sun, just like they did most summer days 2 miles to the south.

Alcohol is banned here, but that doesn’t stop them. A half-dozen men and women pass around a jug of vodka, and it seems the scenes painted by beer sales in Whiteclay have simply moved to a different canvas, this one on a busy corner of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

Their new perch is just outside Billy Mills Hall community center, a prominent building on Pine Ridge’s main drag. They watch as children and parents prepare for a social dance inside. Across the parking lot, shoppers shuffle in and out of the Sioux Trading Post grocery store.

One drinker slides the vodka bottle into her purse, trying to hide it from reporters.

Three months after Nebraska liquor regulators shut down four beer stores in Whiteclay, the crowds of drinkers who once gathered there have moved along. And the struggles of Whiteclay — which were so visible in that tiny village — have dispersed across the surrounding area in unknowable volumes.

Liquor store owners in neighboring communities say their business has skyrocketed. Sales figures from the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission support that claim.

In Rushville — the Nebraska town that has seen the biggest increase in beer sales — people arrive at Barrel House Liquor to find lines out the door.

In Oelrichs, South Dakota, just west of the reservation, owner Eric “Doc” Forney reports “brisk trade” at the Black Hills Saloon Company.

“Three-and-a-half million cans of beer has to go someplace,” Forney says.

By all accounts, at least some of it has gone to reservation bootleggers — with $10

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