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2017-06-15 / Headlines

Native-Led Caucus Focuses On Whiteclay

NATALIE HAND
LCT CORRESPONDENT


Frank LaMere, Winnebago Activist and Vice- Chairman of the Nebraska Democratic Party; NE Democratic Party Chairwoman /Founder Bold Nebraska, Jane Kleeb; and NE Senator Tom Brewer, acknowledging LaMere for his dedication. Photo Credit: Natalie Hand Frank LaMere, Winnebago Activist and Vice- Chairman of the Nebraska Democratic Party; NE Democratic Party Chairwoman /Founder Bold Nebraska, Jane Kleeb; and NE Senator Tom Brewer, acknowledging LaMere for his dedication. Photo Credit: Natalie Hand *This story was completed in partnership with the Lakota Media Project

CHADRON, Neb --Democratic caucuses from across the state converged on this northwestern community last Friday for the quarterly Native Caucus meeting.

Hosted by the Chadron Native American Center, the Native Caucus of the Nebraska Democratic Party’s agenda focused on the issue of the border town Whiteclay, which included a special screening of documentary “Sober Indian, Dangerous Indian”

Jennifer Bear Eagle (Oglala Lakota) was elected as Parliamentarian of the Native Caucus earlier this year. Bear Eagle, in-house legal counsel for the Oglala Sioux Tribe, is aware of the Tribe’s history with the land where the notorious border town lies and supports efforts to give the Whiteclay land back to the Tribe.


Oglala activist Olowan Martinez shared her story about the years of non violent direct action levied against the Whiteclay beer stores. Photo Credit: Natalie Hand Oglala activist Olowan Martinez shared her story about the years of non violent direct action levied against the Whiteclay beer stores. Photo Credit: Natalie Hand “Events like this are key to making more people aware of Whiteclay. This is an important first step,” stated Bear Eagle.

The Native Caucus opened the meeting with officer reports, followed by guest speakers, including Senator Tom Brewer (DNE), Oglala Sioux Tribe Vice President Darla Black, Nebraska Democratic Vice Chairman/ Winnebago Activist Frank LaMere, Oglala Activists Debra White Plume and Olowan Martinez.

“Today I want to recognize a true warrior. Frank LaMere has kept the spirit when many others would have given up. He has been doing this work for decades. We’re not done yet. We have to get the ruling from the Nebraska Supreme Court and then begin the healing. But I want to thank Frank for his commitment to shutting down the beer stores in Whiteclay,” noted Senator Brewer.

Jane Kleeb, Nebraska Democratic Chairwoman and Founder of Bold Nebraska, was on hand and presented LaMere with a gift of appreciation.

“Labels have divided families and communities in the past. It is heartwarming to see Republicans and Democrats alike standing together to fight for important issues like Whiteclay.” stated Senator Kleeb.

The documentary, “Sober Indian, Dangerous Indian”, directed by John Maisch, was featured at the caucus. It profiles four Lakota men who struggle with alcohol addiction on the streets of the notorious border town of Whiteclay.

“I came here to see this movie. I believe that Whiteclay was the physical manifestation of what the defeat of the human spirit looked like. Today, as we drove through Whiteclay, I did not see the faces of my beautiful Lakota people in the dirt. I want to acknowledge Frank LaMere and each one of you that signed a petition, wrote a letter or attended a hearing to shut down Whiteclay,” stated White Plume.

Native Caucus Chairwoman, Chandra Mechelle Sky Walker (Omaha) noted that this is the biggest crowd they have seen. Growing up in urban Lincoln, Sky Walker credits her interest in community activism to LaMere.

“Frank LaMere came to our high school class to speak about Whiteclay. Since that day, I have followed him, attended rallies and protests,” noted Sky Walker.

According to Bear Eagle, there are only a handful of Native American caucuses in the U.S. Her caucus seeks to fill a vacancy for Treasurer at their next regular session.

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