And now:Ish <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> writes:

From: Pat Morris <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>

                    Opinion: It's cowboys-vs.Indians in Whiteclay dispute
                    BY JODI RAVE Lincoln Journal Star

Q: Is the Old West mentality alive and well in contemporary Nebraska?

A: Yes, if you examine the plight of native people in Whiteclay and Santee -- two 
lonely outposts on opposite sides of the state near the South Dakota-Nebraska border.

The unincorporated village of Whiteclay lies on non-Indian land, a beer bottle's throw 
from South Dakota's Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. To the east, there's Santee, a 
small village on Nebraska's Santee Sioux Reservation.

Though separated by 294 miles, they share an increasingly interesting -- and tense -- 
relationship with state government.

And taken together, the two illustrate a modern take on the traditional 
cowboys-vs.-Indians approach to taming the West: It seems the state still condones a 
system that exploits Indians, yet scorns those Indians wanting better lives for 

-- On the one hand, Nebraska officials support the business practices of beer-store 
owners in Whiteclay, a hardscrabble western village of 22. Here, the most vibrant 
businesses are four white-owned bars, which annually peddle $3 million worth of beer 
to their Oglala Lakota neighbors.

-- On the state's eastern edge, about 1,000 people struggle to support themselves 
under the weight of the Santee Sioux Reservation's 74 percent unemployment rate. Here, 
the tribe ekes out a handful of jobs from four tribally owned businesses: a box 
factory, a farm and ranch operation, a hay company and a casino. The largest business, 
the casino, employs 23 people.

For most of this century the villages of Santee and Whiteclay have remained largely 
out of sight, out of mind. Recent headlines thrust each into the spotlight.

On June 8 the bodies of two Lakota men were discovered in a ditch off the highway 
leading from Whiteclay to Pine Ridge. Their unexplained deaths marked the sixth time 
in about five years that dead Indian men surfaced near the border.

In protest, American Indian Movement members organized a rally June 26, marching into 
Whiteclay with 1,500 supporters. After protesting each Saturday since, they timed this 
weekend's four-day rally to coincide with the reservation's largest annual powwow.

Native people have asked Nebraska officials to step in and shut down the white-owned 
businesses. For decades, those businesses have served as a beer pipeline into a 
reservation where alcohol is illegal. Tribal law appears irrelevant next to the law in 
Nebraska, where it is legal to sell beer. Legal to profit from the misery of some of 
the nation's most impoverished people.

Gov. Mike Johanns said Thursday that short of imposing martial law, the state is 
powerless to interfere with the legal rights of Whiteclay business owners.

Yet these same state officials also maintain they are powerless to help the Santee 
break their dismal cycle of poverty.

In March 1993 the tribe and the state began talking about building a casino on Santee 
land. The talks led nowhere. The state refused to negotiate a compact with the Santee, 
contending casino gambling is illegal in Nebraska -- where the "Good Life" includes a 
multi-state Powerball lottery, keno, pickle cards, bingo, raffles, horse racing and a 
state-sponsored lottery.

A bit of background: Legal problems have plagued the Ohiya casino since February 1996, 
when tribal leaders decided to open a casino without state permission. The National 
Indian Gaming Commission ordered the Santee to close the casino in May 1996. After 52 
days, the tribe reopened the casino.

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case after the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of 
Appeals ruled the casino illegal because it lacked a gaming compact with the state -- 
a requirement of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.

In November 1998 U.S. District Judge William Cambridge ordered the tribe to close the 
casino. It refused. In February, Cambridge imposed a $3,000 daily fine, warning tribal 
leaders they could face time in prison. Four months later he increased the daily fine 
to $6,000. Prison sentences still loom before 11 tribal council leaders, who are 
scheduled to appear in an Omaha federal court Aug. 27.

Last week, tribal members voted 61-11 to keep the casino open. Santee Tribal Chairman 
Arthur "Butch" Denny has repeatedly said he would go to jail to keep 23 tribal members 

The Santee have argued they need the casino to help provide a better way of life. 
Although the casino generates less than $1 million annually, those profits support 
schools, education, housing and health programs.

It's the same stance Johanns takes in lauding Nebraska's "legal" form of gambling -- 
the state lottery. It has "definitely served the public well by providing millions of 
dollars for necessary and worthy projects," Johanns said. The state has pocketed 
nearly $20 million in annual lottery proceeds since its inception five years ago.

Nebraska lawmakers claim legal bindings supersede moral obligations. It seems beyond 
their comprehension to create, interpret or change laws to benefit American Indians.

In essence, the state seems to be saying it's OK if Indians are down and out in 

But it's a crime if they are empowered and employed in Santee.

Seems the only good Indian in Nebraska these days is one who is dead, drunk or 

Jodi Rave covers American Indian issues for Lee Newspapers. She is based at the 
Journal Star and can be reached at 473-7240 or at [EMAIL PROTECTED]

Reprinted under the Fair Use doctrine 
of international copyright law.
           Tsonkwadiyonrat (We are ONE Spirit)
                      Unenh onhwa' Awayaton
            UPDATES: CAMP JUSTICE    

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