Whiteclay, A Town Built On Booze


Shannon County, South Dakota is the second poorest county in the United States with a population of 12,466. The average household income is less then twenty thousand dollars a year.  Two miles away from Shannon County, and just 200 feet across the border to Nebraska is Whiteclay. A town of just 14 people in which the average household makes over sixty thousand dollars a year by selling beer, about 4.5 million cans of it each year. The sale of alcohol is illegal in Shannon County since the Oglala Indian Tribe forbids it on the reservation. So at the end of each day hundreds of Pine Ridge resident’s head over to Whiteclay to buy boozes and often to just get drunk on the streets with the little money they have. I drove through it one evening and can only describe the extremely sad scene as a rural version of Skid Row in Downtown Los Angeles.

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