January 1, 2008
Susan Bates
Citing the deplorable conditions that United States Colonial Apartheid has forced upon the Peoples of the Lakotah and other Indian Nations, some Lakota leaders have recently announced they were unilaterally withdrawing from treaties that had been signed with the US Federal government.

The delegation, led by Lakotah activists Russell Means and Phyllis Young, who helped organize the first International Conference on Indigenous Rights in Geneva in 1977, along with onlookers from the Bolivian Embassy, made the announcement from a church in Washington D.C.

According to Means, "We are continuing the work that we were asked to do by the Traditional Chiefs and Treaty Councils, and 98 Indian Nations at the first Indian Treaty Council meeting at Standing Rock Sioux Indian Country in 1974." It is unknown how many Lakotah actually support this decision.

Means, Young and other members of the movement have also established ties to Chilean, South African and Venezuelan embassies. In a web radio interview, Means stated that many other Peoples, including Russians, the Maori of New Zealand, Hawaiian Natives and some of the Pacific Islanders are closely following the progress of this movement.

Turkish Consumers Union President Bulent Deniz wrote in his message to Means, This independence that you have declared against U.S. - the main actor of imperialism - has pleased and excited every one in the world that stands up against imperialism. In the present situation of the continuing tragedy in Iraq, this initiative of the real owners of American lands is fully supported by the Turkish Consumers Union.

Lakota country includes parts of the states of Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming. According to Means, "the new country would issue its own passports and drivers licenses, and living there would be tax-free -- provided residents renounce their US citizenship."

According to an internet radio broadcast I listened to, the new Nation would come up with a currency that would be based on something of value - unlike the paper money we use today.

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.

'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.

In September, the United Nations adopted a non-binding declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples -- despite opposition from the United States, which said it clashed with its own laws. That was the final piece of the equation to get this movement started.

According to Means, "we have 33 treaties with the United States that they have not lived by. They continue to take our land, our water, our children. This has caused once proud tribes to be reduced to "facsimiles of white people."

Consider these statistics:
  • Lakota men have one of the shortest life expectancies in the world - less than 44 years;
  • Lakota teen suicides are 150% above the norm for the United States;
    Infant mortality is 300% higher than the US average;
  • Alcoholism affects 8 out of 10 families;
  • Unemployment is the norm.
  • Median income is approximately $2,600 to $3,500 per year and
  • 97% of Lakotah people live below the poverty line.
  • 40% of Indian children are incarcerated;
  • The Tuberculosis rate on Lakotah reservations is approx 800% higher than the US national average;
  • Cervical cancer is 500% higher than the U.S national average;
  • The rate of diabetes is 800% higher than the U.S national average due in part to the high sugar content of commodity foods.
  • 1/3 of the homes lack basic clean water and sewage while 40% lack electricity.
  • 60% of Reservation families have no telephone.
  • There is an estimated average of 17 people living in each family home.
  • Many People, especially the elders and babies, freeze to death each year.

It is hard for me to imagine that a good end come of this. The US Government is not going to sit idly by and allow this to happen, not after all the Indians they had to kill to get the land and all the Indians they've had to kill to keep it.

Still---there is a growing freedom movement by those who remember freedom and those who think it's worth fighting for.

There have already been two Wounded Knee massacres. Let us pray there won't be a third.