Native American activist Frank LaMere worked tirelessly for nearly two decades to close Whiteclay’s beer stores. Frank is featured in the documentary, Sober Indian | Dangerous Indian, where he visits with a group of tribal activists at Camp Whiteclay Justice on the South Dakota / Nebraska border.
In Sober Indian | Dangerous Indian, Frank recounts Nebraska’s arrest of him, Russell Means, and seven other tribal members who crossed into Whiteclay during a 1998 march. After their release, Frank and Russell returned to Pine Ridge to address a gathering of Lakotas at Billy Mill’s Hall. Russell Means described how the dominant culture had used alcohol to control Native Americans: “They have you on your knees,” he said, “and they didn’t have to fire a single shot.”
The film’s title, Sober Indian | Dangerous Indian, is derived from another Lakota activist, Debra White Plume, who once said that, “A sober Indian is a dangerous Indian.” In the film, Frank LaMere suggests that when Native people become sober, they can begin to ask questions about the injustices that have permeated the relationship between the U.S. and sovereign tribes over the centuries.
Frank LaMere passed away following a brief battle with bile duct cancer on Father’s Day, June 16, 2019. Frank frequently reminded youth and social activists that “Nothing changes unless you make someone else feel uncomfortable. Nothing changes unless you make yourself feel uncomfortable.”