The issue of what is commonly called ‘Indian Affairs’ has long fallen off , if it ever was on, the public radar. Then you read some thing that should get the attention everyone. A South Dakota Native American tribe is suing several beer companies for selling beer to them. On the face of it this whole thing sounds ridiculous.
For many in our news brief society the headline is as far as they will get providing for interesting water cooler and lunch time conversation. The problem here is that alcoholism runs rampant in the real ‘discoverers’ of America. Add to that the town that borders the reservation, population 14, has four beer shops. Four.
These shops are selling brands of malt liquor to the Oglala Sioux Tribe at the Pine Ridge Reservation with names like Hurricane and Evil-Eye. A Washington Post blog (see link at top of page) says the stores are ‘selling the equivalent of 11,000 beers a day’ to people racked with substance abuse and a myriad of other health/poverty related issues.
Even if the beers per day total is exaggerated, how could this be anything else but predatory? We impose special penalties for dealing drugs in school zones and prevent liquor stores from opening near schools. Would we allow beer vendors outside an alcohol treatment center? Yet we allow the vultures to circle while tearing apart a people.
The United States Department of the Interior has an Indian Affairs Bureau. You have to wonder about its advocacy and effectiveness in working with Native American issues. It is as if our nation’s policies toward the tribes has not evolved since the 1800s. The video above provides a good look at what the Oglala Sioux face in their daily existence. Surely we can do better.