Capitol Connection Episode 97

Hope in Whiteclay: Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Trauma Center to Replace Alcohol Distribution


The four beer stores in Whiteclay, Nebraska, that sold 3.5 million cans of beer annually, primarily to residents of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, have been closed for over one year. Subsequently, law and order has been restored to the unincorporated town of less than a dozen residents.

A recent article from the Omaha World Herald detailed numerous positive developments in Whiteclay and the surrounding area, including: a decrease in alcohol consumption on the reservation, unprecedented safety and economic development in Whiteclay, a $500,000 federal grant awarded in the wake of the beer store closings establishing a new treatment and detox center on the Pine Ridge Reservation, and the Oglala Sioux Tribe more than doubling their police force on the reservation to crack down on bootlegging.

Notably, the mayor of Rushville, the next closest town to Whiteclay where alcohol is sold, said the increase in liquor sales due to the closure of the Whiteclay beer stores has had “no negative impacts” on their community.

Tragically, however, the effects of large volumes of alcohol sales over the years has left residents on the Pine Ridge Reservation struggling with alcohol dependence and consumption. This includes fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD), a crippling, incurable disease inflicted upon unborn children who are left with mental and physical disabilities for the rest of their lives.

Now, in a redemptive turn of events, a non-profit organization called Whiteclay Memorial, a living, active organization addressing alcoholism and trauma, is stepping up to help. They are working with professionals in several states to develop a FASD trauma center in Whiteclay, and have entered into an offer to purchase land and buildings in the area – including buildings previously used for storage that supported alcohol distribution – that will house the new Hope Trauma Center. 

Nora Boesem, who is a foster parent, mother of 12 and a professional in FASD trauma, has agreed to serve as director of the Hope Trauma Center.

Whiteclay Memorial is raising funds to complete this redemptive project. Listen to this week’s Capitol Connection Podcast to learn more about this issue, how it impacts all Nebraskans, and what you can do to help.

If you would like to make a financial contribution to help establish the Hope Trauma Center in Whiteclay, checks can be made out to Whiteclay Memorial and sent to:
Whiteclay Memorial ‘Hope Trauma Center’
P.O. Box 81424
Lincoln, NE 68501

For more information about the Whiteclay Memorial and Hope Trauma Center, please contact Alan Jacobsen at 402-610-1188.


Nate Grasz

Nate Grasz

Policy Director
Nate is the Policy Director at Nebraska Family Alliance and host of the Capitol Report program.