Update: Lakota Freedom

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Back in mid-December a small group of American Indian activists gained national press by declaring that the Lakota Sioux would be withdrawing from all treaties with the United States.

“December 20 – Lakota Sioux Indian representatives declared sovereign nation status today in Washington D.C. following Monday’s withdrawal from all previously signed treaties with the United States Government. The withdrawal, hand delivered to Daniel Turner, Deputy Director of Public Liaison at the State Department, immediately and irrevocably ends all agreements between the Lakota Sioux Nation of Indians and the United States Government outlined in the 1851 and 1868 Treaties at Fort Laramie Wyoming.”

Since that announcement, not a single tribal government or council has come forward to support the Lakota Freedom campaign (now calling itself the “Republic of Lakotah”), and Native reaction in the press has been mixed at best.

“Means and his group are not saying anything new, said Joseph Brings Plenty, chairman of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. “What has been said by these individuals has been talked about from dinner table to dinner table since I was a young kid; but the thing is, these individuals are not representative of the nation I represent. I may agree, I may disagree, but they have not gone out and received the blessing of the people they say they are speaking for,” Brings Plenty said.”

Now news has come out that Lakota Freedom spokesman Russell Means “hijacked” the organization and its website in order to pull his treaty-withdrawal stunt.

“Russell Means has gone on to announce the formation of a “provisional government” of the “Republic of Lakotah” with himself as Chief Facilitator, as well as to promote the establishment of a bank and a utility company for the country. Despite the claim Means has made, Naomi Archer, liaison of Lakotah Oyate stated to Wikinews that Means took control of the organization and hijacked it and its website on December 29. Archer also said that Lakotah Oyate or the delegation are not a government entity and do not make decisions for the Nation. “The legitimate actions of the Lakota people are not determined by one person [Russell Means] or even one group, but by the [Lakota] people themselves,” added Archer … Means is acting without having consulted the other elders of Lakotah…”

It is becoming increasingly clear that Russell Means is only speaking for Russell Means, and isn’t leading some sort of large grass-roots popular movement on Lakota Sioux land. As I have stated before, no matter where your sympathies lie, movements like the one Means purports to lead can come only with a (visible) mandate from the masses you claim to represent. At this point Means seems on a collision course for a stay in prison.

“But the bottom line is 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”

But perhaps self-martyrdom is what Means is actually seeking.