LINCOLN, Neb. — The family of woman who died this summer in Whiteclay hopes an investigation will yield answers about the circumstances of her death.
Authorities have said Sherry Wounded Foot of Porcupine, South Dakota, died from head trauma, but they haven’t released many details of the investigation and no arrests have been made.
The Lincoln Journal Star reports (http://bit.ly/2c7BBFU ) that relatives say another family member died in 2012 in the Nebraska town that sells millions of cans of beer annually near South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
Sherry Wounded Foot was found Aug. 5 behind the Lakota HOPE Ministry building and was taken by ambulance to the Pine Ridge Hospital. Authorities didn’t initially think she had been assaulted until family members reported it the next day.
She spent nearly two weeks at a Rapid City hospital before dying on Aug. 17 after family members decided to remove her from life support.
Family members say they never learned what happened to Sanford Wounded Foot after his death in 2012. He was found beaten on Whiteclay’s main street. Whiteclay is known for having intoxicated people passed out in the streets.
Sherry Wounded Foot’s oldest son, Logan Lafferty, said he fears no one will ever be charged in his mother’s death either.
“Each death in Whiteclay seems like nobody could care less, like us Natives aren’t human,” he said.
Sheridan County Attorney Jamian Simmons said the investigation into Sherry Wounded Foot’s death is active and ongoing.
Activists urged the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission again last week to shut down Whiteclay’s four beer stores because the town lacks a permanent law enforcement presence.
“Whiteclay has claimed another life,” said John Maisch, a former Oklahoma alcohol regulator who made a documentary about the town of 12. “Whiteclay is a lawless place.”
Whiteclay sold the equivalent of 3.5 million cans of beer last year. The northwest Nebraska village sits on the border of South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, where alcohol is banned but alcohol-related problems run rampant. An estimated one in four children on the reservation is born with fetal alcohol syndrome.
State alcohol regulators have said they can’t revoke a beer-seller’s license without proof the business is violating liquor laws.
Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, http://www.journalstar.com