group of Lakota Indians has decided to secede from the United States . On December 17, a
delegation arrived in Washington to inform American authorities. The leader of
the group, writer, actor and activist Russell Means, submitted a letter to State
Department officials announcing their decision to sever treaties signed in 1851
[Treaty of Mendota and Traverse De Sioux ] and 1868 [Treaty
of Fort Laramie ]. "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," Russell
Means explained at a press conference organized at a Church on Washington.
Note: An earlier press release said, "Our treaties with the United States
government are nothing more than worthless words on worthless paper -
repeatedly violated in order to steal our culture, our land and our ability to
maintain our way of life." Lakota reservations recognized by the U.S.
government include OgalalaOgalala,
Sicangu, Hunkpapa, Mniconjou, Izipaco, SihaSapa, and Ooinupa. Some Lakota also live on other Sioux reservation
in eastern South Dakota, Minnesota and Nebraska.]
limit any repercussions, the American government didn't respond to the gesture.
The secessionist group has announced its intent to distribute passports and driver's
licenses, but it doesn't represent tribal leaders. Mr. Means, who tried to obtain
the presidency of the Oglala Sioux in 2006, wasn't
elected. At his press conference held in the presence of Bolivia's ambassador to
Washington [Gustavo Guzman] - who declared his support for the activists - he
admitted that the initiative was not unanimous.
Guzman was also quoted as saying, "We are here because the demands of
indigenous people of America are our demands … We have sent all the documents
they presented to the embassy to our ministry of foreign affairs in Bolivia and
they'll analyze everything."]
want to emphasize, we do not represent the collaborators, the Vichy Indians and
those tribal governments set up by the United States of America to ensure our
poverty, to ensure the theft of our land and resources," Means said. The
Lakota are one of the tribes the form the United Sioux Nation and its members
are some of the most underprivileged people in the United States. The Pine
Ridge Reservation of South Dakota has a poverty rate rivaling any found in the
third world: Ninety seven percent live below the poverty level, 85 percent are jobless
and average life expectancy for men stands at 44 years.
1980, the Lakota refused a [Supreme Court] decision that granted them no land,
but a sum of $122 million. Situated on the Great Plains far from tourists, the Pine
Ridge reservation has received no benefit from the casinos that have benefited other
Note: The Lakota have long claimed that the U.S. government stole land
guaranteed by treaty - especially in western South Dakota. Means said at his
press conference, "The Missouri River is ours, and so are the Black Hills."
A U.S. Supreme Court decision in 1980 awarded the tribes $122 million as
compensation, but not the land. The Lakota have refused the settlement. (As
interest accrues, the unclaimed award is approaching $1 billion.)].
Leader of the Oglala Lakota Strong Heart Society, Duane Martin Sr., cuts his drivers license during a news conference in Washington, Dec. 19, after his group annouced the Lakota Sioux Indian withdrawal from all treaties with the U.S. government.
Yellow: Areas reserved for the 'unreserved use of the Lakota people' by the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie.
Orange: Lakota reservation after the U.S. 'stole' the Black Hills .
Brown: Lakota reservations after 100 years of court action.