December 19, 2011

Declaration of independence

Four years ago around this date, the Lakotah (Sioux) withdrew from the 1851 Treaty of Fort Laramie and declared the independence of the Republic of Lakotah.

Sioux chief Sitting Bull

They went to Washington DC to reassert their sovereignty by informing the US Department of State, but State handed the announcement over to Interior, to the Bureau of Indian Affairs.  The Bureau hasn’t done anything because none of the representatives of the Republic of Lakotah is an official tribal president.

The  Lakotah, led by Russell Means, don’t recognize tribal presidents or the Bureau of Indian Affairs either, so it’s all kind of moot.

But the point – to remind us of the history of treaty violations and stolen land – is entirely valid. In the case of the Treaty of Fort Laramie, several tribes agreed to allow safe passage of settlers across their land – basically along the Oregon Trail – in exchange for compensation and the Federal government’s assurance that the emigrants would not be allowed to stop and settle on tribal land. Obviously, things didn’t go that way – the West was not so much won, as gained by permission of the inhabitants or taken by force or guile.

An old story, but it continues.  The Sioux are fighting furiously to regain the Black Hills, taken originally without compensation for gold mining. Although the Supreme Court awarded the tribe financial compensation in 1988 – which with interest is now close to a billion dollars – the tribe has refused to accept the money.  They want the land, which holds numerous sacred sites, and they want it protected from proposed uranium mining which threatens the aquifers.

Map by Nikater

The only entity which has recognized the Republic of Lakotah is the Alaskan Independence Party.

You can find the Lakotah letter to President Obama on the Republic’s website, along with discussions about mining and other issues.



  1. God bless the Sioux may they have their Black Hills. Great blog I have been (believe it or not) thinking what land should be returned to the natives. It’s a beginning.


    Comment by avery — December 19, 2011 @ 12:40 pm | Reply

  2. My family is from Sioux Falls, both sides. The Black Hills are beautiful. Time gives so much more and their waiting will not be in vain. Loved this article. Deborah


    Comment by Deborah Turk — December 20, 2011 @ 4:58 am | Reply

  3. Of course they want the land. Of all of us Native Americans seem to need a sense of place and we should understand that. I had an anthropology prof at Iowa who was called to Washington DC frequently to testify on behalf of our native americans. I was proud of him. Also, he often wore a green suit. More proud.


    Comment by Carol — December 20, 2011 @ 5:51 pm | Reply

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