PRESS RELEASE -- (Bellevue, Neb. – March 5, 2010) Bellevue University will host a panel discussion titled “Whiteclay: The Next Generation” on April 7. The discussion will take place at 11 a.m. in the Hitchcock Humanities Center located on the University’s main Bellevue campus. The hour long event will include presentations and discussions centering on issues surrounding the sale and distribution of alcohol between Whiteclay businesses and residents of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. The panel will include regional Native American dignitaries, individuals who have published books or created films on the topic, economic development experts, and a member of the religious community with ties to the reservation.
The event is free and open to the public and the University’s main campus address is 1000 Galvin Road South in Bellevue, Nebraska.
Whiteclay is an unincorporated village of 14 people in northwest Nebraska bordering the Pine Ridge Native American Reservation of South Dakota. The reservation is home to the Oglala Lakota. Whiteclay is less than 2 miles from the center of Pine Ridge, South Dakota, the largest town on the reservation. The region has been at the center of an alcohol sales and possession controversy for years. Sale and possession of alcoholic beverages on the Pine Ridge is prohibited under tribal law. Whiteclay has four retailers, licensed by the state of Nebraska, which sell the equivalent of 4.5 million cans of beer annually (12,500 cans per day), mostly to the Oglalas living on the Pine Ridge Reservation. The issue has been the source of much debate and has inspired proposals within the Nebraska Legislature.
The University is honored to host a diverse collection of individuals with expert knowledge of the issues at hand.
• Theresa Two Bulls, president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe and South Dakota state senator will deliver a unique perspective to the proceedings.
• Frank LaMere, Indian activist and Director of the Four Winds Community Center, will bring his passion for community and social justice issues.
• Lance Morgan, president and CEO of Ho-Chunk, Inc., will provide expertise on Native American law and economic development.
• Mark Vasina directed an award-winning documentary titled, “Battle for Whiteclay,” which he has made available to university students and faculty via streaming media.
• Fr. Tom Merkel, former superintendent of Red Cloud Indian School on the Pine Ridge Reservation and current president of Omaha Creighton Prep High School will provide a religious perspective.
• Stew Magnuson, noted author and former Washington D.C. foreign correspondent, will add historical perspective to the panel. Magnuson authored, ‘The Death of Raymond Yellow Thunder: And Other True Stories from the Nebraska Pine Ridge Border Towns,’ a nonfictional history of the communities involved in the panel topic.
• Taylor Keen, director of the Native American Center and Creighton University instructor, has extensive business and public sector experience and is a former Tribal Council Member of the Cherokee Nation.
Folk musician Michael Murphy will start the event with some music, and the work of artist Ron Garvais will enhance the experience. Students from Creighton Prep High School and Red Cloud Indian School will contribute some short videos on the theme of the next generation.
“Whether people are new to the Whiteclay story or simply trying to learn more about the situation, we welcome them to the discussion,” said Patrick Artz, Bellevue University professor and panel moderator. “This event provides an excellent opportunity for students and guests to learn more about the Whiteclay experience and join in the conversation.”