Lakota withdraw from treaties, declare independence from U.S.
The Lakota Sioux Indians, whose ancestors include Sitting Bull, Red Cloud and Crazy Horse, have withdrawn from all treaties their forefathers signed with the U.S. government and have declared their independence. A delegation delivered the news to the State Department earlier this week.
Portions of Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming comprise Lakota country, and the tribe says that if the federal government doesn't begin diplomatic discussions promptly, liens will be filed on property in the five-state region. Here's the news release.
"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," said Russell Means, a longtime Indian rights activist. "This is according to the laws of the United States, specifically Article 6 of the Constitution," which states that treaties are the supreme law of the land.
"It is also within the laws on treaties passed at the Vienna Convention and put into effect by the U.S. and the rest of the international community in 1980. We are legally within our rights to be free and independent," he added during a press conference yesterday in Washington.
The new country would issue its own passports and driver licenses, and living there would be tax-free, provided residents renounce their U.S. citizenship, he said, according to a report from Agence France-Presse.
The Lakota say the United States has never honored the pacts, signed with the Great Sioux Nation in 1851 and 1868 at Fort Laramie, Wyo.
"We have 33 treaties with the United States that they have not lived by. They continue to take our land, our water, our children," said Phyllis Young, who helped organize the first international conference on indigenous rights in Geneva in 1977.
Means said the "annexation" of native American land had turned the Lakota into "facsimiles of white people."
In 1974, the Lakota drafted a declaration of continuing independence. Their cause got a boost in September, when the United Nations adopted a non-binding declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples. The Bush administration opposed the measure.