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Republic of Lakotah
MottoMitaku Oyasin (Lakota), "We Are All Related"
Location of Lakotah in USA
Capital none officially declared
Porcupine, South Dakota (unofficial)
Largest city Omaha
Official languages Lakota
Government Matriarchal Confederation (proposed)
 -  Chief Facilitator Russell Means
Independence from United States 
 -  Proclaimed December 19, 2007 
 -  Recognition unrecognized 
Area
 -  Total 200, 000 km2 
77, 220 sq mi 
Population
 -  2005 estimate 100, 000[1] (including only people of Lakota origin) 
Currency Currently USD ($)
Internet TLD None assigned
Calling code 1
Rankings may not be available because of its unrecognized state.

The Republic of Lakotah or Lakotah is a proposed country in North America to serve as a homeland for the Lakota.

Its boundaries would be surrounded by the borders of the United States, covering thousands of square miles in North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming, and Montana. The proposed borders are those of the 1851 Treaty of Fort Laramie between the United States government and the Lakota.

Contents

Background

A group of Native Americans called the Lakota Freedom Delegation traveled to Washington, D.C., on 17 December 2007 and delivered a statement asserting the independence of the Lakota from the United States. The group argues that the recent declaration of independence is not a secession from the USA, but rather a reassertion of sovereignty. Their leader is Russell Means, one of the prominent members of the American Indian Movement in the late 1960s and 1970s.

The Lakota Freedom Delegation does not recognize tribal governments or presidents as recognized by the United States Bureau of Indian Affairs, sometimes referring to these groups as "stay-by-the-fort Indians".[2]

Territory, demographics and economics

The claimed boundaries of Lakotah are the Yellowstone River to the north, the North Platte River to the south, the Missouri River to the east and an irregular line marking the west.[3][4] These borders coincide with those set by the 1851 Treaty of Fort Laramie:

The territory of the Sioux or Dahcotah Nation, commencing the mouth of the White Earth River, on the Missouri River; thence in a southwesterly direction to the forks of the Platte River; thence up the north fork of the Platte River to a point known as the Red Buts, or where the road leaves the river; thence along the range of mountains known as the Black Hills, to the head-waters of Heart River; thence down Heart River to its mouth; and thence down the Missouri River to the place of beginning.[5]
The claimed boundaries of Lakotah shown on the United States

By these claims, the largest city in Lakotah is Omaha, Nebraska. The boundaries also contain Rapid City, South Dakota; Mandan, North Dakota; Casper, Wyoming; and Bellevue, Nebraska as well as Mount Rushmore.

In addition to containing all the Indian reservations of the Lakota, the territory which the Republic claims includes reservations inhabited by non-Lakota Siouan peoples (Dakota Indian Reservation, Winnebago Indian Reservation and Omaha Indian Reservation) as well as part of one non-Sioux reservation: the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation in western North Dakota. They also contain the poorest counties in the United States.

Activities

The Republic of Lakotah is in negotiations to establish its own energy company, and hopes to develop solar and wind power and sell surplus electricity to the United States. This would represent a continuation of projects in the past that have sourced renewable energy on tribal lands.[6] The Republic also hopes to expand the farming of sugar beets for biofuel.[7] As of January 1, 2008, the Republic announced they were filing liens on all US government-held lands within their claimed borders;[8] however, the first round of liens, in an unnamed county in South Dakota, were rejected.[9]

Following this, the Republic of Lakotah has chosen to concentrate on recovery of the Black Hills.[10]

In July 2008, Russell Means announced that the Republic of Lakotah would be founding an all-Lakota "grand jury" to investigate corruption by US government officials on the seven reservations in the Republic's claimed territory.[11]

Jerry Collette in March 2008 announced[12] Means's candidacy for presidency of the Oglala Lakota in the 2008 election; Means won 45% of the vote.[13] Means says that the Republic of Lakotah plans to run candidates in other Lakota tribal presidential elections over the next two years, but does "not expect to win" any of them, instead treating the vote results as referenda on support for the Republic of Lakotah's program.[14]

The Republic Of Lakotah is currently hiring several workers and volunteers of different professions to do numerous construction projects that will be done throughout May to August 2009.[2] Among the largest of these projects is the T.R.E.A.T.Y Total Immersion School. Based on the successes achieved by the Total Immersion School experience of the Māori in New Zealand, the school seeks to teach the indigenous culture’s language, art, dance, music, science and oral tradition in addition to other traditional forms of education to the people enrolled there.

The school will supposedly aid in both cultural and linguistic revival to the Lakotah tribe. Eventually, the Republic of Lakotah will try to expand to the construction of the approximately 100 schools which will be needed to serve all 13 Lakotah reservations.[2][2] The Republic of Lakotah also uses donations made by supporters for "Humanitarian Relief", supplying food and new clothing, as well as providing propane for electricity for poorer people living without them on the reservations.[2]

Politics and government

Citizenship is open to people of all races and to any resident of the land Lakotah claims who renounce their United States citizenship, although the latter is not necessary to participate in the Republic of Lakotah at the moment.[2] The group plans to issue its own passports and driving licenses in the name of the proposed nation.[7][15]

The Republic of Lakotah proposes that the nation be organized as a confederation that would respect the libertarian principles of posse comitatus and caveat emptor, would offer "individual liberty through community rule," and would collect no nationwide taxes. However, individual communities within the proposed nation would be allowed to levy taxes with the consent of the taxed. No currency has yet been proposed but Russell Means has suggested that the proposed nation should not use fiat currency but instead adopt a gold standard.[9][16] Means has stated that this system of government is derived from the traditional Lakota government system.[7][17] Means said, "we are going to implement how we lived prior to the Invasion. Each community will be a mini-state unto itself ... They will form the federation known as Lakotah."[18] Currently, Russell Means identifies himself as "Chief Facilitator" of a provisional government of the Republic of Lakotah.[8] The provisional government is currently being operated out of Treaty School/Ranch in Porcupine, South Dakota, on the Pine Ridge reservation.[19]

The four signatories of the Lakota Freedom Delegation's letter to the State Department that announced withdrawal from the US identified themselves by the title of "itacan of Lakota" in a press release.[20] Leaders of communities would be informally chosen by elders of the community.[17]

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Government

The following people have identified themselves as members of the provisional government of Lakotah, or been so identified by other members of the movement:

  • Russell Means, chief facilitator
  • Tegheya Kte, also called by Garry Rowland, (fully Clarence Gary Anthony Rowland), facilitator[21]
  • Phyllis Young, provisional government member[21]

Decisions within the community are traditionally made by Lakotah Elders, who are valued for their experience. Lakotah Elders will continue to hold power within an independent nation.

No formal capital of Lakotah has been announced. The Republic of Lakotah gives its provisional capital as Porcupine, South Dakota with hopes in the long run to move administration to near Rapid City, South Dakota.[22]

Connections with other movements

Through its membership and work, the Republic of Lakotah has several direct ties to other activist movements among both the Indian and libertarian communities.

Russell Means and Robert Robideau have both long been prominent in the Autonomous American Indian Movement, with Means along with Tegheya Kte having taken part in the Wounded Knee incident and Robideau acquitted in a trial related to the Leonard Peltier case. Tegheya Kte, meanwhile, led the Big Foot Riders in 2007[23], while Phyllis Young is a founder of the Women of All Red Nations feminist movement.[24]

Assertion of independence

A press conference following submission of the withdrawal letter.

The Lakota Freedom Delegation traveled to Washington, D.C. and contacted the United States Department of State, announcing that the Lakota were unilaterally withdrawing from the several treaties between themselves and the United States government. The delegation presented a letter, dated December 17, 2007 and signed by longtime Indian activists Russell Means, Garry Rowland, Duane Martin Sr. also called Canupa Gluha Mani, and Phyllis Young, which declared the Lakota to be "predecessor sovereign of Dakota Territory" and cited gross violations of the treaties between the Lakota and the United States as the immediate cause for withdrawal. The letter also invited the United States government to enter into negotiations with the newly-declared entity, there identified only as "Lakotah." It threatened that if good-faith negotiations were not begun then "Lakotah will begin to administer liens against real estate transactions within the five state area of Lakotah."[25]

The group also has pursued international recognition for the Lakotah at the embassies of Venezuela, Bolivia, Chile, and South Africa and has claimed that Ireland and East Timor are "very interested" in Lakotah's declaration and that they expect recognition from Russia. Russell Means has made reference to Finland and Iceland as well.[7][26] However, none of these nations have publicly announced recognition for Lakotah.

Legal basis for independence

Traditional range of the Siouan peoples (dark green) and the current reservations (orange)

Supporters of Lakotah argue that their assertion of sovereignty is entirely legal under "Natural, International and United States law"[27]. The group emphasizes that the Republic's establishment comes from a "withdrawal" from the United States, not a secession.[7][16]

They argue that as an Indian tribe in the United States, the Lakota were already and always have been a sovereign nation as guaranteed under Article Six of the United States Constitution, bound to the United States Federal Government by treaty. As such, the legal basis of such a state's independence is argued to be the Lakota nation's withdrawal from the 1851 and 1868 Treaties of Fort Laramie, and the rejection of all United States federal laws, executive orders, and other government acts since then, in particular rejecting the Major Crimes Act, the General Allotment Act, the Citizenship Act of 1924, the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934, the Indian Claims Commission Act, Public Law 280 and the Termination Act.[18][28]

The group claims its authority to assert independence derives from a long period of discussion and preparation involving a number of traditional chiefs and tribal councils representing the following Indian reservations and communities:

The group also claims the right to withdraw, on behalf of the Lakota people, from the Treaties of Fort Laramie as a consequence of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties and the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Members argue that the decision in the case of Lone Wolf v. Hitchcock, 187 U.S. 553 (1903) shows that the United States Government does not adequately protect Indian rights.[25] Means also cites the Enabling Act of 1889, stating that clauses protecting Indian sovereignty on the lands comprising the states where the Lakota historically reside have been ignored.[7]

In a 15 January 2008 news release, the Republic of Lakotah proposed that independence from the United States might follow a Compact of Free Association and suggested that the independence process could resemble that of the Philippines, Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia or the Marshall Islands.[10]

Russell Means has also stated that he intended to treat the result of the 2008 Pine Ridge Reservation Presidential election, in which he was a candidate,[31] as a "plebiscite/referendum" on Lakota independence.[32]

Motivations for independence

Lakotah's founders cite the Oglala 1974 Declaration of Continuing Independence:

The United States of America has continually violated the independent Native Peoples of this continent by Executive action, Legislative fiat and Judicial decision. By its actions, the U.S. has denied all Native people their International Treaty rights, Treaty lands and basic human rights of freedom and sovereignty. This same U.S. Government, which fought to throw off the yoke of oppression and gain its own independence, has now reversed its role and become the oppressor of sovereign Native people.[28]

The groups cite several reasons for its assertion of sovereignty, all connected what they refer to as the "colonial apartheid" of the reservation system in the United States. The group claims that control by the United States has led to massive unemployment, poverty and disease among the Lakota people and also alleges that 150 years of US administration is responsible for the statistical poverty of Lakota lands. The group claims that withdrawal from the United States will reverse these problems as well as help reestablish the Lakota language and culture.[33][34] The group also claims persistent violations by the United States of their treaties with the Lakota.

Inyan Kara, in the Black Hills is a sacred mountain to the Lakotah.

Another longstanding point of contention between the Lakota and the United States is the status of the Black Hills of South Dakota, which were part of Sioux reservation lands until they were taken without compensation by the US government and opened for gold mining following the collapse of the Treaty of Fort Laramie (1868). In 1980 the U.S. Supreme Court decision United States v. Sioux Nation of Indians awarded $105 million to eight tribes of Sioux Indians as compensation ($17.1 million for the market value of the land in 1877 and $88 million in 5% per annum simple interest between 1877 and 1980),[35][36] but the court did not award land. The tribal governments of the Lakota has refused the settlement, and as interest accrues, the unclaimed award is approaching $1 billion.[37]

Support and reactions

The extent of popular support among the Lakota people for independence is unclear. Russell Means and Canupa Gluha Mani have claimed that some 13,000 Lakota, including 77% of the population of Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, have shown support for the Republic of Lakotah, and that the 8-member delegation which traveled to Washington, D.C. was only a portion of some 77 tribal elders and activists taking part in the movement.[7][38] However, Rapid City Journal reporter Bill Harlan reported on his blog that "most folks I talk to hadn’t heard about the declaration. The ones who had heard the news, to a person, did not want to talk about it on the record."[39] The Journal has also noted that "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."[40] Nanwica Kciji, an Oglala Lakota and first president of the Native American Journalists Association, has also discredited the December 2007 developments, arguing that the Lakotah Freedom Delegation "never considered that treaties are made between nations and not individuals."[41]

The Alaskan Independence Party, in an announcement dated December 21 2007, "applauded" the independent Lakota nation and granted it "full recognition".[42] The secessionist movement Second Vermont Republic has also announced its support, and encouraged other American Indian groups to similarly declare independence from the United States.[43]

Response from recognized Native American governments

The official tribal governments of the Lakota have had mixed reactions, though none have yet adopted either faction's program.

Rodney Bordeaux, chairman of the Rosebud Sioux, said that Rosebud Indian Reservation has no interest in joining the Republic of Lakotah and said that the Lakota Freedom Delegation never presented their plan to the tribal council.[17] Bordeaux stated that the group does not represent the Lakota people nor the support of the elected tribal governments. However, he did say that Russell Means "made some good points".[9]

Joseph Brings Plenty, chairman of the Cheyenne River Lakota, agreed that the Lakota Freedom Delegation "are not representative of the nation I represent" but would not say whether he agreed or disagreed with their goals and message, noting some value in the group's actions in raising awareness for the history of the Lakota people.[9]

Conversely, Avis Little Eagle, the vice-chairwoman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Council, has said that the Council of Standing Rock Reservation will consider Russell Means's letter.[44]

Charmaine White Face, speaking for the Teton Sioux Treaty Council, has announced:

There is a provision within the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868 that our ancestors, including my great-great grandparents, had included. Article 12 says the Treaty of 1868 could not be changed except by three-fourths of the adult male vote. This was done expressly to protect the people, the land, and our way of life. What are now called reservations, were originally created as prisoner of war camps by the USA when they invaded our territory. We are living as an occupied nation similar to the situation in Iraq where the USA imposes its own form of government.

In the late 1870s, two other leaders, Spotted Tail and Red Cloud, were coerced into trying to change the 1868 Treaty by the USA. Even though they eventually signed what the US wanted, they also knew that without three-fourths of the adult male approval, the 1868 Treaty could not be changed. Russell Means is only one man and has not received the three-fourths adult male approval. However, Russell Means' efforts remind the world that we still have an international treaty with the USA.[45]

International response

Internationally, according to Russell Means, Venezuela's ambassador to the United States has stated to the group that his country cannot recognize Lakotah's independence based on Venezuela's interpretation of what the Lakotah Freedom Delegation is doing.[7]

In February 2008, the Lakotah Freedom Delegation (including Means) handed over a formal petition, asking for recognition of the Republic of Lakotah, to the embassies of Russia, Serbia, Bolivia, Venezuela, the Republic of South Africa, Ireland, France, Nicaragua, East Timor, Chile, Turkey, India, Finland, Iceland and Uruguay. The text of the petition is available online.[46]

U.S. Government response

The United States Department of State is referring queries on the subject of Lakotah to the United States Department of the Interior, which oversees the Bureau of Indian Affairs.[47]

Gary Garrison of the BIA said that the group's withdrawal "doesn't mean anything." "These are not legitimate tribal governments elected by the people ... when they begin the process of violating other people's rights, breaking the law, they're going to end up like all the other groups that have declared themselves independent — usually getting arrested and being put in jail."[9]

Russell Means, on the subject of what the Republic of Lakotah expects the federal government response to be, has stated that "I don't expect the federal government to do anything. I don't believe they even know what to do."[7]

References

  1. ^ Lakota Nation from UNPO
  2. ^ a b c d e f Jerry Reynolds (2007-12-28). "Delegates announce pullout from U.S. treaties". Indian Country Today. http://www.indiancountry.com/content.cfm?id=1096416361. Retrieved 2007-12-31.  
  3. ^ "Map". Republic of Lakotah. http://www.republicoflakotah.com/map.html. Retrieved 2008-01-02.  
  4. ^ "About". Lakota Oyate. http://www.lakotaoyate.com/about.html. Retrieved 2008-01-04.  
  5. ^ "Treaty of Fort Laramie - 1851". http://www.canku-luta.org/PineRidge/laramie_treaty.html. Retrieved 2008-01-02.  
  6. ^ "Tribal Energy Program: Rosebud Sioux Tribe - 1999 Project". U.S. Department of Energy Energ Efficiency and Renewable Energy Information Center. 2007-04-17. http://www.eere.energy.gov/tribalenergy/projects_detail.cfm/project_id=35. Retrieved 2008-01-01.  
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i Means, Russell. Interview with Ed Morissey. Heading Right. Blogtalkradio. 2007-12-22. (Interview). Retrieved on 2008-01-05.
  8. ^ a b "Notice to All Foreign Governments and Private Owners of Real Estate within the Republic of Lakotah" (PDF). Press release. 2008-01-01. http://www.republicoflakotah.com/docs/noticeofliens.pdf. Retrieved 2008-01-02.  
  9. ^ a b c d e Gale Courey Toensing (2008-01-04). "Withdrawal from US treaties enjoys little support from tribal leaders". Indian Country Today. http://www.indiancountry.com/content.cfm?id=1096416411. Retrieved 2008-01-04.  
  10. ^ a b "Republic of Lakotah focuses on Black Hills". 15 January 2008. http://www.indymedia.org/en/2008/01/899372.shtml. Retrieved 2008-01-02.  
  11. ^ Andrea J. Cook (July 28, 2008). "Republic of Lakotah investigating tribal corruption". Rapid City Journal. http://rapidcityjournal.com/articles/2008/07/28/news/local/doc488d2d87d0b09450038082.txt. Retrieved 2008-07-28.  
  12. ^ Jerry Collette (March 4, 2008). "The move for Lakotah independence". Liberty For All. http://www.libertyforall.net/?p=1201. Retrieved 2008-03-04.  
  13. ^ Heidi Bell Gease (November 19, 2008). "Pass Creek to vote again, OST election results released". Rapid City Journal. http://www.rapidcityjournal.com/articles/2008/11/19/news/local/doc4923547577697601760338.txt. Retrieved 2008-12-13.  
  14. ^ Update on Republic of Lakotah at YouTube (requires Adobe Flash)
  15. ^ Catherine Elsworth (2007-12-26). "Sitting Bull's tribe declares independence". The Daily Telegraph. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/12/21/windian121.xml. Retrieved 2007-12-31.  
  16. ^ a b Russell Means interview from December 26, 2007 on Free Talk Live
  17. ^ a b c Faith Bremner (2007-12-20). "Lakota group pushes for new nation". Argus Leader. http://www.argusleader.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20071220/NEWS/712200347. Retrieved 2007-12-31.  
  18. ^ a b Republic of Lakota. Republic of Lakotah, hosted on YouTube. 2008-03-03. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rlIYGE3JRsA. Retrieved 2008-01-03.  
  19. ^ "Republic of Lakotah web forum". Republic of Lakotah. 2008-07-01. http://republicoflakotah.com/forum/index.php?topic=112.0. Retrieved 2008-08-01.  
  20. ^ Lakota Freedom Delegation (2007-12-20). "Freedom! Lakota Sioux Indians Declare Sovereign Nation Status". Press release. http://www.commondreams.org/news2007/1220-02.htm. Retrieved 2007-12-31.  
  21. ^ a b "REPORT". republicoflakotah.com. February 24, 2008. http://www.republicoflakotah.com/Rowland.html. Retrieved 2008-03-05.  
  22. ^ "FAQ". Republic of Lakotah. http://www.republicoflakotah.com/FAQ.html. Retrieved 2008-01-07.  
  23. ^ "Chief Big Foot Riders Return To Wounded Knee, "We Want To Be Free"". commondreams.org. December 27, 2007. http://www.commondreams.org/news2007/1227-03.htm.  
  24. ^ Josephy, Alvin M.; Joane Nagel, Troy R. Johnson (1999). Red Power: The American Indians' Fight for Freedom. U of Nebraska Press. pp. 51. ISBN 0803225873. http://books.google.com/books?id=DreCFo6MrR8C&dq.  
  25. ^ a b Lakota Freedom Delegation. "Lakotah Unilateral Withdrawal from All Agreements and Treaties with the United States of America" (PDF). Press release. http://www.republicoflakotah.com/Treaty/121707withdrawal.pdf. Retrieved 2008-01-05.  
  26. ^ Bill Harlan (2007-12-20). "Lakota Sioux Secede From US, Declare Independence". Rapid City Journal. http://www.rapidcityjournal.com/articles/2007/12/20/news/local/doc476a99630633e335271152.txt. Retrieved 2007-12-31.  
  27. ^ "Media". Republic of Lakotah. http://www.republicoflakotah.com/media.htm. Retrieved 2007-12-31.  
  28. ^ a b "Declaration of Continuing Independence by the First International Indian Treaty Council at Standing Rock Indian Country June 1974" (PDF). Press release. 1974-06. http://www.republicoflakotah.com/docs/declarationofcontinuingindependence.pdf. Retrieved 2008-01-15.  
  29. ^ "History". Republic of Lakotah. http://www.republicoflakotah.com/history.htm. Retrieved 2007-12-31.  
  30. ^ "History". Lakota Oyate. http://www.lakotaoyate.net/history.html. Retrieved 2008-01-03.  
  31. ^ "Russell Means for President of Pine Ridge Sioux Indian Reservation". http://www.russellmeansfreedom.com/. Retrieved 2008-04-03.  
  32. ^ Russell Means. Russell Means Freedom Part 1 YouTube Podcast accessed on 2008-04-03.
  33. ^ "Why". Republic of Lakotah. http://www.republicoflakotah.com/why.htm. Retrieved 2007-12-31.  
  34. ^ "Why". Lakota Oyate. http://www.lakotaoyate.net/why.html. Retrieved 2008-01-03.  
  35. ^ "UNITED STATES v. SIOUX NATION OF INDIANS, 448 U.S. 371 (1980)". FindLaw. http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?navby=CASE&court=US&vol=448&page=371. Retrieved 2008-06-13.  
  36. ^ Bill Harlan (December 19, 2007). "Lakota group secedes from U.S.". Rapid City Journal. http://www.rapidcityjournal.com/news/local/article_43e36124-43fc-5e9d-b102-65584e665dda.html. Retrieved 2007-12-19.  
  37. ^ "Sioux Indians of Lakota Tribe Tell State Dept. of Succession". Le Monde. http://worldmeets.us/lemonde0000166.shtml. Retrieved 2008-04-29.  
  38. ^ Juxtaposeur. Interview with Canupa Gluha Mani - Lakota Freedom Delegation Mind Viruses
  39. ^ Bill Harlan (2007-12-21). "Lakota Nation: no taxes!". Mount Blogmore, the Rapid City Journal Politlcal Blog. http://www.rapidcityjournal.com/politicalblog/?p=2381. Retrieved 2008-01-01.  
  40. ^ Mikel LeFort (2007-01-20). "Lakota announcement: Where does it go?". Typos and Tribulations: Behind the headlines with a Rapid City Journal editor. http://rapidcityjournal.com/blogs/editor/?p=339. Retrieved 2008-01-01.  
  41. ^ Tim Giago. "Catering to That 10 Percent That Love to be Mascots". http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tim-giago/catering-to-that-10-perce_b_79241.html. Retrieved 2008-01-07.  
  42. ^ Lynette Clark (2007-12-21). "Alaskan Independence Party". http://www.akip.org/lakota.html. Retrieved 2008-01-18.  
  43. ^ "Lakota Independence Resolution". Second Vermont Republic. 15 January 2008. http://vermontrepublic.org/news_events/lakota_independence_resolution. Retrieved 2008-01-23.  
  44. ^ Mike Nowatzki (2007-12-28). "Standing Rock official: Council to consider treaty pullout". Grand Forks Herald. http://www.grandforksherald.com/articles/index.cfm?id=61908&section=news. Retrieved 2008-01-01.  
  45. ^ Charmaine White Face. "In response to the Press Release by Russell Means". http://www.defendblackhills.org/joomla/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=120&Itemid=1. Retrieved 2008-01-20.  
  46. ^ untitled
  47. ^ "For your query, we will refer you to the Department of the Interior. This is not a State Department issue." Kirsten Petree, Director, Office of Media Affairs, U.S. Department of State, private communication with Wikinews (December 21, 2007)

External links


Simple English

A group of Native Americans decided to call the place where they live the Republic of Lakotah. This group is called the Lakotah Freedom Delegation. They believe the Republic of Lakotah should be treated as a separate country, but at the moment, no other country in the world agrees that it is.

Contents

Background

When white people first came to North America from Europe, the Lakotah people, who are a native tribe, had already been living there for thousands of years. The Lakotah legally had nothing to do with the USA until they made treaties (agreements) with each other in the 1800s.

Since then, the Lakotah people have lived inside the borders of the USA. On December 17, 2007, the Lakotah Freedom Delegation said that Lakotah should become a separate country again, as it was before they made treaties with the USA.

They drew up borders, which includes bits of North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming and Montana. At the moment, most people consider these regions still to belong to the USA.

Reasons for wanting independence

In December 2007, the group traveled to Washington, D.C. and spoke to the government. They announced that the Lakotah were withdrawing from the treaties they had with the USA. They said the USA had not been following the treaties and this had been causing problems on Lakotah land.

For example, the USA and the Lakotah made an agreement called the Treaty of Fort Laramie, which meant the Lakotah could keep the Black Hills. The Black Hills is a very sacred and special place for the Lakotah. But the USA broke the agreement and invaded the Black Hills when they found out that gold was buried there. Now the Black Hills is home to the famous mountain carvings of Mount Rushmore.

The group says that the Republic of Lakotah is not a new country, but a country that has just been revived. But some members of the Lakotah tribe complain that they were not told about the plans. Many of the leaders of the Lakotah tribe were not asked beforehand. Traditionally, a vote needs to be held if a treaty is going to be changed, and 75% of Lakotah males need to vote in favor of the change. But a vote was not held when the plans for the Republic of Lakotah were being made.

The group argues that Lakotah is allowed to be its own country, by law. They use the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, Article Six of the United States Constitution and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to back up their plans.

The Lakotah Freedom Delegation say they might follow the example of the Philippines or the Marshall Islands, countries which used to belong to the United States but then achieved independence.

Government

Anyone is allowed to be a citizen of the Republic of Lakotah as long as they give up their citizenship of the United States. The group plans to make its own passports and driving licenses.

The government will be run in the traditional Lakotah way. The elderly people, who receive a lot of respect in Lakotah tradition, will choose leaders to run the country.

At the moment, supporters of the Lakotah Freedom Delegation are arguing over the name of the country. Some people like the name Republic of Lakotah, but others prefer Lakotah Oyate. Oyate is the Lakotah word meaning "nation".

The government plans to use solar energy and wind power to make electricity, because these methods do not hurt the environment.

Support

A place does not exist as a country until other countries in the world recognise its borders or its government, and treat it as a separate country. The Lakotah Freedom Delegation has contacted the embassies of Venezuela, Bolivia, Chile and South Africa, asking to be recognised as an independent country. The group has also mentioned Russia, Finland and Iceland, and said that Ireland and East Timor are interested in the plans. But at the moment, no other country in the world is treating Lakotah as a separate country.

The US government is unlikely to support the Republic of Lakotah because it means the USA will lose some land. They've said that the group's plans do not mean anything.


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