Following the struggles of Lakota teenager George Dull Knife for four years, a new documentary examines recent protests of American Indian Movement (AIM) activists to shut down the four bars in Whiteclay, Nebraska. This town of fourteen people existed solely to sell alcohol to Natives from Pine Ridge across the border. The one-hour video, On a Knife Edge, is part of PBS’s America Reframed series and is available on-line.
The bars were enormous money-making ventures, with support from local sheriffs and county commissioners. They also fueled rapes, murders, and alcoholism. It’s bizarre to see police, who are protecting the bars, extorting money from teenage protesters who are trying to close the bars.
The documentary alludes to an election at Pine Ridge where alcohol was legalized– this in fact never went in to effect. In April 2017, the bars at Whiteclay were closed by order of the state of Nebraska. The 12-minute clip below, from The Guardian, describes the continuing battle against alcoholism and suicide at Pine Ridge.