Painted over graffiti of a grim reaper with the words "Lakota, Death Ahead." Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, SD and Whiteclay, NE border
Whiteclay was originally part of a 10-mile-wide, 5-mile-deep buffer zone created in 1889 to protect the reservation from whiskey peddlers. President Theodore Roosevelt returned all but one square mile of the land to the public domain in 1904, and alcohol merchants flocked to the area.
Until 2017, Whiteclay, Nebraska had the highest per capita alcohol sales in the U.S. The village has only 10 residents. Yet its four beer-selling stores sold about 4,500,000 cans per year. That’s over 1,200 12-ounce cans per resident per day. Beer sales equaled over a quarter million dollars per resident per year. And some years much more beer was sold. This income and profit was made possible by the self-imposed alcohol prohibition at the large Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
The “Skid Row of the Plains” is now a dry town.