Thursday, December 20, 2007

Lakota Declare Independence!

So a co-worker just related to me that the "Lakota" had declared "independence" and were seceding from the United States. My first thought "Wow, that's pretty amazing" and my second though was "Wait a second...that sounds totally bogus." So I looked the story up myself:

A group [that] represents the Lakota Sioux Indian representatives from various reservations and states said Wednesday that it is declaring sovereign nation status and withdrawing from all treaties with the U.S. government.

"This is an historic day for our Lakota people," said Native American action and activist Russell Means. "United States colonial rule is at its end!"

The paragraph should read "A group that purports to represent the Lakota" to be accurate. The jig was up once I saw that Russell Means was involved. More:

The new nation is needed because Indians have been "dismissed" by the United States and are tired of living under a colonial apartheid system, Means said during a news conference held at Plymouth Congregational Church in northeast Washington. He was accompanied by a bodyguard and three other Lakota activists - Gary Rowland, Duane Martin and Phyllis Young, all of South Dakota.

"I want to emphasize, we do not represent the collaborators, the Vichy Indians and those tribal governments set up by the United States of America to ensure our poverty, to ensure the theft of our land and resources," Means said, comparing elected tribal governments to Nazi collaborators in France during World War II.

Here's one of those "collaborators" he's referring to:

Rodney Bordeaux, chairman of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, said his community has no desire to join the breakaway nation. Means and his group, which call themselves the Lakota Freedom Delegation, have never officially pitched their views to the Rosebud community, Bordeaux said.

"Our position on that is we need to uphold the treaties, and we're constantly reminding Congress of that message," Bordeaux said. "We're pushing to maintain and to keep the treaties there because they're the basis of our relationship with the federal government."

I've looked at a few various news accounts of this story, all of which seem to have a little trouble either discerning or detailing the fact that these "leaders" are actually just activists looking to make some noise, and that they don't represent the various Lakota tribes either politically or in any other sense. But it's an entertaining story for a slow day I suppose. These activists who were probably counting on the ignorance of the media for their little stunt to get some play called it right it would seem.

UPDATE: Sigh. One of the supposed advantages of the blogosphere over traditional media is the ability of blogs to "correct" media accounts. I looked at some blog coverage of this story though and most bloggers also seem to have trouble understanding what's really going on with this story. Typical examples range from this one on the left, to this one on the right (though a few bloggers seem to get it.) I know most bloggers are fairly young, but you think at least a few of them would have some passing familiarity with the American Indian Movement, and Russell Means and his ilk. You might also think that after a few hundred years of this sort of thing white people would figure out that just because a Native American says he represents a whole tribe, it doesn't mean he actually does...especially when he's trying to sell his neighbor's land or, these days anyway, get his face on the nightly news.


Nat-Wu said...

The reporters almost always do a piss-poor job of covering stories dealing with American Indians. Nothing new in that. What I am surprised by is that people seem to forget who Russell Means is. He's been pulling these kinds of stunts for 30 years, and it's a close call as to whether it's to keep his own fame alive or to actually help anybody out. Is he the greatest living leader of Indian activists who's never been given the recognition and authority he deserves, or is he a grandstander, a firebrand who loves to stir things up and get his name in the papers but leaves the dirty work to those who don't get any reward?

Xanthippas said...

I vote for the latter.

Also, see my update about the inability of bloggers to understand what's going on in this story either.