Officials at the alcohol-plagued Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota are calling on brewer Anheuser-Busch to fund an addiction treatment center, the Associated Press reported Sept. 19.
Four small stores in Whiteclay, Neb., near the technically “dry” reservation sell 4 million cans of beer each year, mostly to reservation residents. The group Nebraskans for Peace and some members of the Oglala Sioux tribe have set up roadblocks to confiscate alcohol in cars heading back to the reservation from the stores, and also protested outside the offices of the local Budweiser distributor.
Anheuser-Busch products account for 86 percent of sales at the Whiteclay stores. Among the most popular is Hurricane Malt Liquor, which has a 6-percent alcohol content.
Now, the group is seeking a meeting with A-B officials, saying that while the company has the right to sell its products, it also has an obligation to deal with the consequences. “They're not taking a serious look at what it's doing to people in Whiteclay,” said tribal activist Duane Martin, Sr.
Mark Vasina, president of Nebraskans for Peace, added, “Nobody has ever said Anheuser-Busch is the sole agent or that the beer companies are the sole agents responsible for what's going on in Whiteclay or on the reservation. We're all responsible. We all need to work on solutions.”
Busch officials did not commit to meeting with the group. Carol Clark, vice president of corporate social responsibility for the brewer, issued a statement saying, “While we are certain these individuals are well-intentioned, we do not believe asking our company or our wholesaler to stop selling our products is the way to address these problems. Eliminating sales would affect responsible adult consumers and harm retailers throughout the area.”