Until this week.
Descendants of Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull Break Away from US
The Lakota Indians, who gave the world legendary warriors Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse, have withdrawn from treaties with the United States, leaders said Wednesday.
"We are no longer citizens of the United States of America and all those who live in the five-state area that encompasses our country are free to join us," long-time Indian rights activist Russell Means told a handful of reporters and a delegation from the Bolivian embassy, gathered in a church in a run-down neighborhood of Washington for a news conference.
A delegation of Lakota leaders delivered a message to the State Department on Monday, announcing they were unilaterally withdrawing from treaties they signed with the federal government of the United States, some of them more than 150 years old.
Over here in New York, the Oneida Indian Nation - a historical descendant of the Iroquois Nation, which included the Mohawk tribe from which my mother is descended - still has a copy of a treaty on display at their headquarters. It dates back to the 1700's, signed by the President of the United States, and states that all the lands in present-day New York west of the Hudson River and north of the Mohawk River will be the property of the indigenous tribes "for as long as the sun shall shine and the rivers shall flow."
Clearly many of us missed out on an extremely long spell of drought and darkness, as the Oneida lands comprise a still large, but vastly reduced patch of land south of Utica and Syracuse. (They have quite a nice casino,however.) Most of the treaties signed by our government with the indigenous peoples were largely ignored or modified without the consent of the Native Americans.
The Lakota have apparently built a strong constitutional case for their claim this week, with supporting documentation from the Geneva Conventions and various United Nations rules which the U.S. is a signatory to.
Lakota country includes parts of the states of Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming.
The new country would issue its own passports and driving licences, and living there would be tax-free -- provided residents renounce their US citizenship, Means said.
The treaties signed with the United States are merely "worthless words on worthless paper," the Lakota freedom activists say on their website.
The treaties have been "repeatedly violated in order to steal our culture, our land and our ability to maintain our way of life," the reborn freedom movement says.
Withdrawing from the treaties was entirely legal, Means said.
"This is according to the laws of the United States, specifically article six of the constitution," which states that treaties are the supreme law of the land, he said.
"It is also within the laws on treaties passed at the Vienna Convention and put into effect by the US and the rest of the international community in 1980. We are legally within our rights to be free and independent," said Means.
This comes at an awkward time for the present administration, coming as it does right before Christmas and weeks before the primary elections begin. Nobody wants to see a modern day slaughter taking place with the Lakota yet again, and particularly not now. But the timing of this declaration, which effectively has them seceding from the Union, seems too much for coincidence, given how it's only ten days before the anniversary of the slaughter.
I'll be waiting to see what the government's reaction is to this. Stay tuned.
See the above for an exclusive Heading Right/Mid Stream Radio interview with Russell Means.