Tribal Economic Development Organization Buys Land in Whiteclay

Dec. 23, 2021, midnight ·

John Maisch stands in Whiteclay, Nebraska (Photo by Fred Knapp, Nebraska Public Media News)
John Maisch stands in Whiteclay, Nebraska (Photo by Fred Knapp, Nebraska Public Media News

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A tribal economic development organization has purchased 48 acres of land in Whiteclay, Nebraska that could be used for health and healing.

The tiny village of Whiteclay in northwest Nebraska used to be known for selling millions of cans of beer each year to residents of the nearby, officially dry Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota -- home to the Oglala Sioux Tribe. Some people would drink and hang out on the streets of Whiteclay, earning the village the nickname “Skid Row of the Plains.”

Wednesday, Thunder Valley Development Corporation, a tribal organization headquartered on the reservation, purchased 48 acres of land in Whiteclay.

The property is agricultural land that had been purchased or optioned by John Maisch. He’s an Oklahoma law professor whose 2014 documentary “Sober Indian, Dangerous Indian” was part of a wave of activism that preceded the beer stores closing three years later.

Maisch said his memorandum of understanding with Thunder Valley calls for creating a restorative health care campus that could include short- and long-term substance abuse services, transitional housing, and trauma care. But he said it would be up to Thunder Valley ultimately to decide what happens there.

A question to Thunder Valley officials about plans for the site was not immediately answered.