Whiteclay, Nebraska. It’s a town full of regret for the Lakota Indians trying to drown their problems with a can. Beer that is. With a total population of 12, Whiteclay has 4 beer stores that sell an average of 12,000 cans of beer per day. Yes, you read that right, 12,000 cans of beer per day.
At any given time, there are between 30 and 60 Lakota Indians living on the streets of Whiteclay. The drink as soon as they wake up and it lasts all day long. Some of them stay drunk for a couple of weeks and then go home for a couple of weeks.
So why do they stay in Whiteclay and get drunk? Alcohol is illegal in Pine Ridge. It’s about a miles walk from Pine Ridge to Whiteclay.
We first heard of Whiteclay from our Youth Pastor at our church in Bentonville, Arkansas. He and his wife are from around the area. When we heard that a man and his wife, Bruce and Marsha BonFleur opened a place they call Lakota HOPE Ministry, we decided to go up there and see what all the fuss was about.
Turns out there was quite a few things going on. Indians against Indians. Protesters, gun fire and knife fights. People dying on the streets. Gangs. No jobs. Poverty. My photojournalism kicked in and I started to photograph everything I could away with. They don’t really like their picture being taken, but in order to tell their story, I have to have photographic proof.
The pictures you see of the children were taken at a park in Pine Ridge. Didn’t really see any children in Whiteclay.
Over the past 3 years, I’ve developed a genuine relationship with some of the individuals there. I can call them friends.
Thanks to Bruce and Marsha, they have hope. With a street ministry like no other, they give the Lakota Indians a safe place to clean up and hear the Word of God.
Please feel free to share the pictures below on your social media and help spread the word.
Jimmy Harmon is an award winning, published photographer using professional Sony photography equipment. From Senior Portraits and real estate photography to weddings and model shoots, contact Jimmy Harmon for your professional photography needs.
Jimmy is available to travel anywhere in the United States.