Both the AFP and USA Today are reporting that the lakota Indian nation has withdrawn from all treaties with the U.S. and declared independence, citing numerous breaks of those treaties by the U.S. government over the years.
USA Today's On Deadline:
The Lakota Sioux Indians, whose ancestors include Sitting Bull, Red Cloud and Crazy Horse, have withdrawn from all treaties their forefathers signed with the U.S. government and have declared their independence.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.And AFP:
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.
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.But the Rapid City Journal's editor notes:
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.
They also visited the Bolivian, Chilean, South African and Venezuelan embassies, and will continue on their diplomatic mission and take it overseas in the coming weeks and months, they told the news conference.
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.
On the other hand, there were no tribal presidents in the group which made the announcement, no one from the top ranks of any of the Lakota Sioux tribes. ... Russell Means has been known to stage public events to get his message out, and there are some Lakotas who don’t feel Means speaks for them.All of which leaves me, a poor furryner, with more questions. Where does this go next? Has anyone heard any more? Supposing the Lakota leadership are all behind this and are serious, does Bush call in the National Guard? Will American progressives support the Lakota if so, or the Bush administration?
And so we determined the story would not go on A1, unless we could confirm support of this group’s decision by any of the top officials from any of the Lakota tribes. Otherwise, this may amount to nothing more than talk.
Update It looks like all the above questions will remain "what ifs". The Argus Leader reports that:
"I 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, comparing elected tribal governments to Nazi collaborators in France during World War II.So if you guessed grandstanding by the guy who once contested the Libertarian presidential nomination with Ron Paul, it looks very like you were correct.
Rodney Bordeaux, chairman of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, said his community has no desire to join the breakaway nation. Means and his group, which call themselves the Lakota Freedom Delegation, have never officially pitched their views to the Rosebud community, Bordeaux said.
"Our position on that is we need to uphold the treaties, and we're constantly reminding Congress of that message," Bordeaux said. "We're pushing to maintain and to keep the treaties there because they're the basis of our relationship with the federal government."
Update 2 The Left Coaster puts the final nails in the story's coffin.