PINE RIDGE, S.D. | The reservation home to the Oglala Sioux sits on a beautiful and unforgiving landscape. The tribe has long struggled with an epidemic of alcoholism, even though alcohol sales and possession are illegal.
Oglala Sioux President Bryan Brewer blames alcohol sales just across the border outside the Pine Ridge Reservation. The liquor stores in nearby Whiteclay, Neb., a town with a population of 10 people, sell more than 4 million cans of beer a year.
The Oglala Sioux voted earlier this month to allow liquor sales on the reservation. If it passes a court challenge, the new law will allow the tribe to make money from alcohol sales to use for detox and treatment centers. Opponents of the referendum fear selling alcohol on the reservation will worsen the alcohol problem here.
Documentary photographer Wesaam Al-Badry first lived on the Pine Ridge Reservation seven years ago after growing up in refugee camps in southern Iraq. For more than three years, he’s captured scenes of life on the reservation including Camp Zero Tolerance – an effort to stop alcohol abuse.