It is of significance that the Dakota Access pipeline fight takes place at Standing Rock. Standing Rock is largely the territory of the Hunkpapa Lakota Oyate kin. Tatanka Iyotanka's (Sitting Bull's) people. Sitting Bull was a traditional Lakota leader who refused to surrender to the United States and live on a reservation. He moved his people to lands claimed by Canada. Beyond US jurisdiction. Only starvation and cold forced them to settle on reservations. Sitting Bull was an Oceti Sakowin (Sioux Nation) patriot to the last. Tragically he was murdered by culturally assimilated members of his own people. Many indigenous activists use the phrase in the spirit of Crazy Horse as a rallying cry.

Perhaps today one should rally in the spirit of Sitting Bull. There is much discussion of treaty rights in the opposition to Dakota Access. The significance of Sioux Nation treaties deserves discussion.

Treaties, a history

In the 1851 Ft. Laramie Treaty the US formally recognized the territory of the Oceti Sakowin (Sioux Nation). The US violated the treaty and was severely defeated in Red Cloud's #war. The US renegotiated the Ft. Laramie Treaty in 1868. This makes it one of the most significant of the American Indian treaties because it is the result of a military defeat and total surrender of the United States to an indigenous nation. The United States didn't like the terms of the treaty preventing it from building roads, post offices, and other infrastructure through Sioux Nation territory.

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It secretly changed the treaty in the “Chicago rewrite” which the Sioux Nation did not sign or agree to. US federal case law says that treaties are to be liberally construed in the light most favorable to the Indians, and in a way, they would have understood them. How have the Sioux and other indigenous nations understood treaties?

Declaration of continuing independence

During the 1973-74 Wounded Knee II standoff with the US government American Indian Movement (A.I.M.) activists and traditional Oglala Lakota Oyate kin declared that the hamlet of Wounded Knee was the Independent Oglala Nation (ION). The late American Indian Movement leader Russell Means sought recognition from the United Nations but was initially unsuccessful. Later, in 1977 at Standing Rock, Means and the traditional leaders of the Hunkpapa Lakota Oyate kin delivered the “Declaration of Continuing Independence.” The phrase continuing independence is key. Indigenous peoples did not seek integration with the United States.

Indigenous nations were coerced through military force and legislative fiat to accept integration with the United States, but not without a fight. A small group of culturally assimilated American Indian academics supported integration. Another group of academics and traditional leaders vehemently opposed it with good reason.

A 1924 delegation, lead by Cayuga leader Deskaheh, of traditional Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) demanded representation at the League of Nations after World War I. Some countries supported them. Countries with colonial possessions who subjugated colonized peoples did not like the legal implications of recognizing indigenous international legal personality. The culturally assimilated integrationists helped the US hurriedly enact the 1924 Indian Citizenship Act. It made US citizens of all American Indians whether they wanted it or not. Unfortunately, many indigenous people see this as positive. They fail to recognize its true purpose is to deny indigenous nations the right to full sovereignty and the ability to seek redress for grievances through international legal bodies. Fortunately, traditional indigenous peoples reject the racist notion that the United States has any legal right to unilaterally diminish indigenous sovereignty. Native Hawaiians, the Haudenosaunee, and the traditional Sioux leaders at Standing Rock in 1977 assert their continuing independence. They rightly view US activity in their territories as the illegal occupation of a foreign invader. #Climate Change #Foreign Affairs