On August 26, several organizations looking to have a peaceful march of women and children to protest alcohol sales in Whiteclay, Nebraska ended with protestors being carted away in horse trailers, verbal altercations and Native youth being maced.
Autumn Two Bulls, a participant and Pine Ridge Reservation tribal legal liaison is the mother of 10-year-old Wakinyan (Lightning and Thunder.) who was one of the Native youth sprayed in the face with mace by a police officer.
Two Bulls was furious such a thing could happen on a day meant to be peaceful. According to Two Bulls, Whiteclay bar owners had hired grown men to fight protestors. When four of the men began yelling at a 14-year-old Native youth, the police arrested the boy but not the other four men involved in the altercation. Native residents proceeded to blockade the police cruiser while telling the officer they were arresting a minor. More law enforcement arrived shortly after the protestors blockaded the car.
“The officer was taking a Lakota child without permission based on false accusations, the window came down and the police officer directly sprayed. The teenagers ducked but my son was standing there and they continued to mace him,” Two Bulls said.
A day meant for peace left Two Bulls feeling regret. “It was really sad, because I am an activist for our people. I should have been the one being maced. Nobody was enacting violence with the Nebraska State Police. I’d like to know who that police officer is?” she said.
According to Two Bulls, the officer questioned why her son was even at the protest, to which she informed him it was a peaceful march and that the children have every right to make a stand against alcohol as well.
According to Olowan Martinez, one of the organizers of the event, the day was meant to be a non-confrontational protest for women and their children.
“It was meant to be a peaceful protest,” she said. “We really encouraged the women to bring their children out so that they could see and witness this. I was very happy this day because the families stayed with their children to support the lockdown that was happening.”
Jessica Garraway, a supporter of the protest against Whiteclay and member of Deep Green Resistance was at the protest alongside other supporting groups such as American Indian Movement Grassroots, Native Youth Movement, Un-Occupy Albuquerque, Occupy Lincoln, and Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center that all showed up to support the Women of the Oglala Lakota Nation and Oweaku (Bring Back the Way).
“It took me awhile to process it, everything was happening so fast. The officers were saying if we didn't leave the line it would be a federal offense. The people that were on the ground doing the blockade, they hauled them away in a horse trailer. That horse trailer had dried horse shit all over it.”
Garraway also mentioned how as the police had stepped to the protest line, huge winds began to form and huge flocks of birds were seen flying at Wounded Knee.
Debra White Plume, a resident of Pine Ridge who was also present at the protest saw much of the same altercations including verbal assaults from the four men she said were trained mixed martial arts fighters hired by Whiteclay bar owners. “They were screaming "get your "f***kin Jungle Bunny ass back where you came from!"
White Plume said after the day was done four beer joints were shut down and she heard thankful comments from tribal police as to their efforts. Referring to the number of calls usually being responded to being down.
“I truly believe we achieved our goal for that day,” Martinez said. “To bring worldwide awareness to the genocide going on in Whiteclay. The whole action itself was a visual teaching for our young people that Whiteclay is not a good place.
“This is colonization on a deep rooted level and the longer they stay open is really insulting. Our fight is far from over. Whiteclay is still open for business today, but we are watching them and they know this now,” she said. “We will be back soon, our action there in Whiteclay is far from over.”
Attempts were made to contact the Sheridan County Sheriff’s Office and The Nebraska State Police. The Nebraska State Police told Indian Country Today Media Network all comments needed to go through the state attorney who could not be reached for comment.
See footage of inside the horse trailer here.