Lakota Activists Declare Independence from US
Citing total frustration with a "colonial apartheid system imposed on the Lakota Sioux" that has produced incomprehensibly high levels of infant mortality, Tuberculosis, poverty, unemployment, and teenage suicide amongst the Lakota people, the proposed new country would exist independent of the United States and require its citizens to renounce their American citizenship.
This provocative declaration will likely have significant implications for Aboriginal people throughout North America, many of whom have been mired in slow-moving treaty negotiations and become increasingly frustrated with a perceived lack of progress or substantive improvement in their communities.
To what lengths will other groups go to assert their own sovereignty?
THE Lakota Indians, who gave the world legendary warriors Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse, have withdrawn from treaties with the US.
"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 said.
A delegation of Lakota leaders has delivered a message to the State Department, and said they were unilaterally withdrawing from treaties they signed with the federal government of the US, some of them more than 150 years old.
The group also visited the Bolivian, Chilean, South African and Venezuelan embassies, and would continue on their diplomatic mission and take it overseas in the coming weeks and months.
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, Mr Means said.
The treaties signed with the US were merely "worthless words on worthless paper," the Lakota freedom activists said.
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.
The Lakota relaunched their journey to freedom in 1974, when they drafted a declaration of continuing independence -- an overt play on the title of the United States' Declaration of Independence from England.
In stating why the Lakota are declaring independence from the United States, they are unsparing and candid about the “colonial apartheid system imposed on the Lakota Sioux.”
The devastation this has wrought is clear:
• Lakota men have a life expectancy of less than 44 years, lowest of any country in the World (excluding AIDS) including Haiti.
• The Lakota infant mortality rate is 5x the U.S. Average.
• The Tuberculosis rate on Lakota reservations is approx 800% higher than the U.S national average.
• 97% of our Lakota people live below the poverty line.
• Unemployment rates on our reservations are approximately 85%.
• Teenage suicide rate is 150% higher than the U.S national average for this group.
• Our Lakota language is an Endangered Language, on the verge of extinction.