In mid-December, Russell Means and a group of Lakota people declared they are withdrawing from treaties entered into with the United States, including but not limited to the Fort Laramie treaties. This declaration made some headlines, but apparently wasn’t widespread news.
At the time Means made the declaration I did some internet searches to see how people—Indian and non-Indian—reacted to it. What I saw was that many people do not know much about American Indian political issues, as was evidenced in their commentary. I decided my New Years Blog Resolution would be to blog more about Indian issues so readers have access to information that will hopefully aid in thinking about such things.
American Indian political issues are incredibly complex and I won’t be able to do justice to that complexity on this blog. Further, if the future resembles the past, I will be too busy to write many substantive posts here. But expect to see me linking to articles, websites and other blogs frequently.
Let me note, in closing, how things seem to playing out with Means’ attempt at treaty withdrawal.
A treaty is a formal agreement between sovereigns. Some treaties cannot be withdrawn from, but most can. If a treaty is bilateral rather than multilateral, when one party withdraws from the treaty, the treaty is thereby dissolved. In the case of Russell Means and his group, Lakota Freedom (now called The Republic of Lakotah), what is essential is that his group, in order to withdraw, must be representative delegates for a party to the treaties. From the reports I’ve read, it looks as though they are not representing The Great Sioux Nation or any peoples therein. If they are not representative, then they cannot withdraw from the treaties. Whether they are representative is a matter internal to The Great Sioux Nation and its member nations.