You may never hear this on CNN, but the North American continent doesn’t consist of Canada, Mexico and the U.S. any longer. You need to add one more country to the list - Lakota.
Yes, the leaders of the Native American Lakota nation have formalized their independence from the United States by dropping from treaties with the United States that they say were never implemented in the first place.
Russel Means talking during Columbus Day protest in Denver
According to Agence France Press:
“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 told a handful of reporters and a delegation from the Bolivian embassy, gathered in a church in a run-down neighborhood of Washington for a news conference.
A delegation of Lakota leaders delivered a message to the State Department on Monday, announcing they were unilaterally withdrawing from treaties they signed with the federal government of the United States, some of them more than 150 years old.
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, Means said.
The declaration of Lakota’s independence was arguably made possible by the recently-adopted United Nations Declaration on Indigenous Rights. I have commented on the declaration before arguing it lacks condemnation of the worst threat posed to indigenous people – cultural genocide. But I guess the declaration at least inspires indigenous nations to strive for more rights.
And in case you are thinking “who the hell would want to secede from America” be advised that the Lakota reservation is one of the poorest places in the world. The Lakota people die the youngest in the entire world, excluding those who die from AIDS in Africa.
Oppression at the hands of the US government has taken its toll on the Lakota, whose men have one of the shortest life expectancies — less than 44 years — in the world.
Lakota teen suicides are 150 percent above the norm for the United States; infant mortality is five times higher than the US average; and unemployment is rife, according to the Lakota freedom movement’s website.
We are the freedom loving Lakota from the Sioux Indian reservations of Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana who have suffered from cultural and physical genocide in the colonial apartheid system we have been forced to live under.
We are continuing the work that we were asked to do by the traditional chiefs and treaty councils, and 97 Indian Nations at the first Indian Treaty Council meeting at Standing Rock Sioux Indian Country in 1974.
During the week of December 17-19, 2007, we traveled to Washington DC and withdrew from the constitutionally mandated treaties to become a free and independent country. We are alerting the Family of Nations we have now reassumed our freedom and independence with the backing of Natural, International, and United States law.
We do not represent those BIA or IRA governments beholden to the colonial apartheid system, or those “stay by the fort” Indians who are unwilling claim their freedom.
And a poem by Dennis Banks quoted in my most favorite book – Mary Crow Dog’s Lakota Woman:
They call us the New Indians
Hell, we are the Old Indians,
the landlords of this continent,
coming to collect the rent.