Authorities investigating death possibly linked to Whiteclay

Whiteclay, Nebraska is an unincoporated town with four beer stores bordering the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota (Photo by Fred Knapp, NET News)
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September 8, 2016 - 4:34pm

The county attorney with jurisdiction over Whiteclay, Nebraska says questions are still being investigated in connection with an alleged assault in the reservation border town that led to a woman’s death.


Wednesday, advocates of closing the beer stores in Whiteclay cited the death of Sherry Wounded Foot, who they said was beaten in the town and later died, as evidence Whiteclay is “lawless.”

Thursday, Sheridan County Attorney Jami Simmons said law enforcement authorities have now received an autopsy report on Wounded Foot, who died August 17. “That autopsy report does identify the cause of death to be blunt trauma injury to the head. At this time, the matter is being investigated as a possible homicide,” Simmons said.

Simmons sadi among the issues still being investigated is where Wounded Foot sustained her injuries. She said ambulance personnel who took the woman from Whiteclay to the hospital in Pine Ridge, South Dakota, on August 5th, the day after the alleged assault, told the Sheridan County sheriff there was no evidence of trauma and they were transporting her for treatment possibly related to the overconsumption of alcohol.

Simmons said a family member notified the sheriff the next day, August 6, they believed Wounded Foot was assaulted. A hospital in Rapid City confirmed her injuries were suspicious.

Simmons said there are still significant questions to be answered. “I can’t confirm that there was an assault in Whiteclay at this time, because I don’t know that we have evidence conclusively saying that,” she said. “It may be that that’s what took place and we will have that information in the future. Right now it’s under investigation to see what took place, where, and when, and who was involved.”

Attorney and Whiteclay documentary filmmaker John Maisch raised Sherry Wounded Foot’s death at a Nebraska Liquor Control Commission meeting Wednesday. Maisch said she was assaulted in Whiteclay, and the beer stores, which sell mainly to residents of the officially dry Pine Ridge Reservation next door, should not be licensed.

Editor’s note: Highlights of Maisch’s testimony to the Liquor Control Commission, as well as comments from Commission Executive Director Hobie Rupe can be found on the NET News Nebraska Facebook page.

 

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