Should a beer company be held responsible for rampant alcohol abuse on a Indian reservation?
I’m not sure how I feel about this lawsuit. Although I’m sympathetic to American Indians who recognize, address and attempt to amend the social evils which plague their communities, I also think a lawsuit such as this does not acknowledge the perpetrators of alcohol abuse and the conscious decision of the people who choose to partake. I’m not familiar enough with the story to know whether the Oglala are attempting to help those whose lives are destroyed by alcohol abuse, though I assume they are, mostly likely with limited resources. Though I agree this would garner the tribe national attention, it seems that lawsuits such as this are often the go-to solution for American Indians to get national coverage and hopefully redress (or at least an out of court settlement).
Rather than go black or white with this, I believe the solution is to go sideways, or at least, northeast, to the Badlands National Park in South Dakota. There is discussion currently on the part of the National Park Service to put administration of the park into the hands of the Oglala Sioux, making it the first tribal-run national park in the country. I believe this is a thinly-veiled recognition by the federal government of the Sioux that have never accepted monetary compensation after the US failed to carry out the conditions of the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie, granting the Sioux absolute control over the Badlands. A national park operated by an American Indian tribe would be a historic accomplishment and a new precedent for the future set on the eve of the centennial anniversary of the creation of the NPS system. This would mean great possibilities in interpretation and it is also a somewhat ballsy move on the park of the United States to allow American Indians to have interpretive control over one of the most hot button topics in American Western history. I plan on following this story closely and hope that the Oglala Sioux with find fulfillment and a sense of renewed purpose if granted this charge and with the creation of new jobs will come a permanent curb in alcohol abuse. Meanwhile I’ll have to think twice about what Budweiser means by calling itself “The Great American Lager.”