Frank LaMere

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Frank Dean LaMere
Born c 1950
Occupation Activist, politician
Political party Democratic Party

Frank LaMere (born c. 1950) is a Winnebago Activist from South Sioux City, Nebraska. He was a member of the American Indian Movement (AIM) in the 1970s and more recently is noted for his work opposing liquor sales in Whiteclay, Nebraska, a small town whose main industry is selling alcohol to residents of the nearby Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, where alcohol sales are prohibited. LaMere is a leader in the Democratic Party, and has served as chairman of the National Native American Caucus and been a delegate to the Democratic National Convention seven consecutive times from 1988 to 2012.

Early life and AIM[edit]

LaMere was born March 1, 1950[citation needed] and lived in Montana as a young man. Frank's brother, Anthony, died in Vietnam in 1971.

LaMere was a member of the American Indian Movement (AIM) in the early 1970s and was active in demands for reform to the Bureau of Indian Affairs.[1] In November 1972, LaMere was a spokesman for a group of AIM members who assembled in front of the federal building in Billings, Montana. Armed guards were posted at the building in response to the assembly, which desired to present a list of demands to the area director of the Bureau of Indian Affairs whose office was in the building.[2] In Billings, Lamere was director of the Wiconi Project in 1973[3] and the Montana United Indian Association in 1974.[4]

LaMere speaks frequently about stereotypes in the media. In 1984, LaMere lost his sister, Michelle LaMere, in a hit-and-run. LaMere used the example of her treatment in the press as an example of the stereotypical treatment of Indians as drunks, rather than an innocent victim in his speeches in the late 1980s.[5]


LaMere was a noted athlete as a young man, and helped found the all-Native "North Americans" fastpitch softball team in 1989.[6] In the 1990s, LaMere organized 10,000 Sioux, Winnebago, and Omaha who lived in the Sioux City, Iowa area to protest against the proposed name for the Sioux City minor league baseball team, the Sioux City Soos, and that name was changed to the Sioux City Explorers.[7]

In the early 1990s, LaMere was a part of a movement by Santee and Winnebago tribes to seek federal loans to buy back reservation land purchased by non-Indians in deals which he claimed were "less than scrupulous".[8] In 1991 he was the chairman of the twelfth National Indian and Native American Employment and Training Conference in Spokane, Washington.[9]

Liquor sales in Whiteclay, Nebraska[edit]

LaMere has been involved in a campaign against alcohol sales to Indians in Whiteclay, Nebraska near the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. Alcohol sales are prohibited on the reservation.[10] LaMere has considered many different tactics to deal with liquor sales at Witeclay, from protests, to opening an Indian owned liquor store and using the proceeds to fund a rehabilitation center, to claiming that the town of Whiteclay should be a part of the reservation based on the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie.[11]

LaMere along with Russell Means, John Yellow Bird, Tom Poor Bear, Webster Poor Bear, Gary Moore, and Benedict Black Elk were arrested for crossing Nebraska State Patrol police lines during a protest on July 3, 1999.[12] In the fall of 1999, Means and LaMere proposed getting a license to sell beer in Whiteclay, in order to retain some monies to benefit the tribe and build a treatment center on the reservation, but abandoned the project due to disagreement by others of their group.[13] Other activists who have worked with LaMere regarding Whiteclay include Clyde Bellecourt and Dennis Banks.[10]

LaMere's activity in the Whiteclay issue has continued into 2016. In 2008, film-maker Mark Vasina produced a documentary about the activity in Whiteclay of Lamere, Means, and Duane Martin, Jr. called The Battle for Whiteclay.

Political activities[edit]

LaMere has served as Democratic Party chairman of the National Native American Caucus.[10] He served as executive director of the Nebraska Inter-Tribal Development Corporation.[14] He was a member of the Nebraska Indian Commission.[12] Frank LaMere was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention seven consecutive times from 1988 to 2012.[15] In the 2010s, he was executive director of the Four Directions center in Sioux City, Nebraska. In 2011 he was awarded the "War Eagle Human Rights award" by the Sioux City Human Rights Commission for his lifelong activity, including his work in Whiteclay and his work lobbying in support of the 2003 Iowa Indian Child Welfare Act.[16]

LaMere was active in groups opposing the Keystone XL pipeline in the early 2010s, work which brought him in close contact with Bold Nebraska's Jane Fleming Kleeb, husband of Scott Kleeb. Jane became chair of the Nebraska Democratic Party in 2016, and LaMere was elected first associate chair.[17]

Personal life[edit]

Frank is married to Cynthia (née Rouse). He has four children, Jennifer, Hazen, Manape and Lexie. His parents were John and Matilda LaMere. His brothers included Anthony, David, Darrell, Larry, Randall and Willard, and his sisters included Laura, Lauren, Candace, Jackie, Michelle and Karen. Lexie died of leukemia in 2014.[18] In early 2012, LaMere suffered a stroke.[15]


  1. ^ Indians Meet at BIA Office. Aberdeen Daily News (Aberdeen, South Dakota). Thursday, November 9, 1972. Page: 7
  2. ^ Post Guards in Billings, The Daily Plainsman (Huron, South Dakota) November 9, 1972, page 8, accessed October 24, 2016 at
  3. ^ [Advertisement] The Montana Standard (Butte, Montana) February 25, 1973, page 25, accessed October 24, 2016 at
  4. ^ Montana Commission on Post-secondary Education. "The Montana native American and post-secondary education (1974) accessed October 24, 2016 at
  5. ^ Hecht, Michael L. Communicating Prejudice" SAGE Publications, 13 Apr, 1998. p 254
  6. ^ Been, Scott. North Americans Continue Tradition, News Oklahoma, July 11, 1993, accessed June 13, 2016 at
  7. ^ Stapleton, Bruce. Redskins: Racial Slur Or Symbol of Success? iUniverse, 2001 p 54
  8. ^ Indians Seek Loans to Buy Back Land. Aberdeen Daily News (Aberdeen, South Dakota). Friday, May 8, 1992. Page: 9
  9. ^ 30th Anniversary NINAETC program, accessed October 24, 2016 at
  10. ^ a b c Johansen, Bruce Elliott. Encyclopedia of the American Indian Movement. ABC-CLIO, 9 Apr 2013, p 172
  11. ^ Indian Activists Disagree over Witeclay Beer Store. Aberdeen Daily News (Aberdeen, South Dakota) Thursday, October 7, 1999. Page: 9
  12. ^ a b Whiteclay Plea Agreement Fails in 6 March Cases. Aberdeen Daily News (Aberdeen, South Dakota). Friday, September 15, 2000. Page: 13
  13. ^ DAVID HENDEE AND PAUL HAMMEL, "Whiteclay Beer Proposal Divides Indian Leaders", Omaha World-Herald, 6 October 1999, accessed 6 March 2012
  14. ^ Johansen, Bruce Elliott. The Encyclopedia of Native American Economic History. Greenwood Publishing Group, 1999, p 84
  15. ^ a b Hayworth, Bret. Siouxland Democrats heading to convention to boost Obama. Sioux City Journal. Sep 2, 2012, accessed June 13, 2016 at
  16. ^ Zerschling, Lynn. Sioux City community members honored for civil rights work, Sioux City Journal (Sioux City, Iowa) December 10, 2011, accessed October 24, 2016 at
  17. ^ ZACH PLUHACEK, "In Democratic shakeup, Jane Kleeb elected state party chairman" Lincoln Journal Star Jun 18, 2016,
  18. ^ Lexie Wakan LaMere (Obituary). Sioux City Journal. Jan 5, 2014, accessed June 13, 2016 at