Reservation Sues Major Beer Companies

Alcohol is extremely addictive and has the ability to not only tear families apart but even entire communities. Who is responsible is the question?

An American Indian tribe in South Dakota is demanding $500 million in damages, in a suit against beer manufacturers. They are alleging the companies knowingly contributed to alcohol-related problems on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

The Oglala Sioux Tribe of South Dakota is suing for damages for the:

  • cost of health care
  • social services
  • child rehabilitation as a result of chronic alcoholism

The Pine Ridge Reservation is a dry reservation, you cannot purchase alcohol anywhere. Residents of the reservation would make the short trip next door into the town of Whiteclay, Nebraska, a town whose sole purpose is to sell alcohol to Indians and their only source of income is from alcohol sales. The tribe is also suing four beer stores in Whiteclay which sold almost five million cans of beer in 2010. Whiteclay has only about a dozen residents, according to the AP.

The reservation is the size of Connecticut and has struggled with alcoholism constantly over the years. The lawsuit says one in four children born on the reservation suffers from fetal alcohol syndrome or fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, according to the AP.

The beer companies named in the suit are Anheuser-Busch InBev Worldwide, SAB Miller, Molson Coors Brewing Co., MillerCoors LLC and Pabst Brewing Co. Allegedly beer makers and stores sold their products to residents of the reservation, knowing they would smuggle the alcohol into the reservation, either to drink or resell.

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