In Support of Lakotah Sovereignty

The Oglala Lakotah chose last December to unilaterally withdraw from treaty with the United States government. Since that time, the Makaq have withdrawn from treaty from Canada, and groups of Haudenosaunee have come together this past April along with representatives of several dozen recognized indigenous national groups across Canada to declare their own joint sovereignty. This letter was delivered to Hugo Chavez at the office of the presidency at Miraflores, and to the chancellor of the Venezuelan National Assembly, in support of Lakotah Sovereignty, along with a Lakotah petition seeking full diplomatic recognition.

To help correct these injustices and continued deprivations, the Lakotah have established a provisional government in what is the present state of South Dakota, while seeking complete and internationally recognized sovereignty. Since that time, the Makaq have withdrawn from treaty from Canada, and groups of Haudenosaunee tribes have come together this past April with representatives of several dozen other recognized indigenous national groups to declare their own joint sovereignty.

This letter1 was delivered to Hugo Chavez at the office of the presidency at Miraflores, and to the chancellor of the Venezuelan National Assembly, a little earlier this year, along with a Lakotah petition seeking to establish relations with and full diplomatic recognition from the government of Venezuela. —

English translation:

Hugo Chávez, President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela:

Greetings and salutations,

This past December 17th of 2007, the nation and people of Lakotah have withdrawn from treaties and colonial bonds with the United States of America; and have asserted their continued rights, as promised originally in the Louisiana purchase of 1803, and formally recognized in every subsequent treaty between the Lakotah and the United States of America, to be a fully free and sovereign member of the world community of nations. Last week representatives of the Lakotah people stood before the doors of your Embassy in Washington seeking to meet with your ambassador, the honorable Bernardo Alvarez Herrera.

The Lakotah are a Nation of people who once lived free across the Northern plains. The Louisiana Purchase was shortly followed by the doctrine of Manifest Destiny, which had no place for another people living free. With Manifest Destiny came the treaties, often forced upon the Lakotah by waging aggressive war, although still made with the Lakotah as a separately recognized sovereign nation. With the treaties eventually came the reservations; internment camps where the entire Lakotah civilian population, men, woman, and children, were forced to relocate and live. 29 Treaties were made. These treaties conferred obligations and commitments upon the United States government, as well as the Lakotah Nation, as per the United States Constitution. Yet, only the Lakotah Nation has fullfilled those obligations and commitments, while the government of the United States continues to ignore its legal responsibilities. The time of treaties has now come to an end.

While Venezuela has enjoyed the wealth of oil since the 1950’s, there was a time in rural Venezuela when vast numbers lived in the worst poverty of all of Latin America. I have visited your country, and I have met people who were brought up in poverty; in huts without running water, electricity, jobs or hope. Today, they say they have found hope, their children have found education in the new schools being built, they have found jobs and opportunities to live as human beings. This was made possible by your administration.

The American Indian continues to live in poverty. The only difference is that hope has yet to come for them. The country that colonizes them has never done anything for them and instead has done much harm to them. Today, many live without electricity, without running water, without jobs or hope. Living within the world’s richest nation they have the shortest of life expectancy and among the highest infant mortality of any group of people found in the world today. The difference is that for them, they are under a foreign government, not their own. The government that colonizes them has not changed it’s behavior in over 150 years and will not do so now. They have watched the previous patterns of the United States and do not believe that the United States will ever honor its obligations under the treaties. Much like in Venezuela, companies in the United States have stolen oil and resources from the Lakotah Nation, without due payment and with the blessings of the United States government. Unlike in Venezuela, which has legal recourse as a recognized Nation, there is no possibility for change, unless they make change happen for themselves.

The Lakotah people today do not ask for special compensation for these past crimes, even though they well deserve it. Nor do they seek vengeance for what had been done to them. They only ask that what was originally taken from them be restored, nothing more. They desire only to live in peace with all who now dwell on their lands, and do so as a fully free and sovereign nation. The attached petition offers a more complete history and a clear basis for how the Lakotah have continued to be recognized as a sovereign people for over the past 150 years, as well as establishing in far greater detail why the treaties with the United States must come to an end, and hence why the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela should afford diplomatic recognition to the provisional government of Lakotah. However, there is a greater reason still.

The people of Venezuela have found hope, yet they still remember what it was like to live in poverty and without hope. They know and understand at least some of what the American Indian has suffered and endured. They understand what the Lakotah must do and why. They know, as only another people who have suffered in the past as the Lakotah suffer today, and who have struggled out of the bonds of oppression, the obstacles and difficulties the Lakotah Nation faces. For all these reasons, for the people of Venezuela, as well as for the Lakotah, it is my hope that your government will choose to recognize this reborn nation.

On Behalf of freedom loving people everywhere.

  1. The letter was written with the full knowledge and consent of Russell Means and the provisional Lakotah government. []

David Alexander Sugar is an active maintainer for a number of packages that are part of the GNU project. He has served as the voluntary chairman of the FSF's DotGNU steering committee and as the communities elected representative to the International Softswitch Consortium. He can be reached at: dyfet@gnu.org. Read other articles by David, or visit David's website.

7 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. john andrews said on June 28th, 2008 at 11:53pm #

    This is a fine cause and should be widely supported.

  2. Lloyd Rowsey said on June 29th, 2008 at 5:49am #

    Thanks for this, David Sugar. All Americans need to identify with South American indios of progressive persuasions, in our homes-of-choice and our ancestral homes in The States. Speaking for myself, I’m most proud to contemplate the possibility that I have AmericanIndian blood in my veins, by way of Oklahoma and Texas.

  3. David Sugar said on June 29th, 2008 at 6:28am #

    First, a minor note of correction and apology. Originally a two paragraph introduction was prepared for publishing this letter here, and then later I drafted a shorter single paragraph one. I did not notice we actually had both versions of the introduction still in place until after it was on the site. So if the intro seems a bit…redundant…that is why :).

    Lloyd, I would argue that whether one has American Indian blood or not, a few important elements of their culture did “migrate” into the U.S. “meme pool”.

    More so than simply learning the basics of agriculture in North America, the first colonizers also learned something of civics from the Gayanashagowa of the Haudenosaunee, which we recognize today as the foundation for the U.S. constitution, and more broadly in general constitutional concepts of governance and federalism. Of course the reason the concepts and lessons of the great law functioned 500 years for the Haudenosaunee until the coming of colonizers, but did not function as well for the people of the U.S., leading to this “thing” we now call America becoming an executive ran police state for the protection of the wealthy few, is that the Haudenosaunee lived in an essentially classless society with a high level of economic equality.

    The other great cultural trait, that everyone in the U.S. likes to uniquely identify as “American”, that of our concept of individual liberty, was also I believed “borrowed” from interaction with the indigenous population. American Indian cultures had this social trait and concept deeply in place long before a savage people first appeared from over the oceans to colonize them. Again, it became distorted, in part because it became coupled in a unique way with one trait the Europeans did uniquely bring with them, greed. And thus was established what is proclaimed as the “uniquely American” character, when in reality it is a distorted version of the American Indian.

    There are many ways to support Lakotah sovereignty and dignity. One of the simplest I think is to support the Treaty school established by Russell and Pearl Means (http://www.treatyschool.com), which is an effort at creating a cultural immersion eduction for Lakotah children. Other things and ideas may be found at http://www.republicoflakotah.com.

  4. hp said on June 29th, 2008 at 11:08am #

    Well I guess I was wrong in believing the “Sioux” (Chippewa name meaning enemy) were an empire themselves, expanding and conflicting with other tribes with which they came into contact?
    Wrong in believing the Poncas, Omahas, Pawnees, Assiniboine, Crows, Shoshoni and Chippewa, to name a few, were enemies of and hated the Sioux, who, like all empires were in the business of expanding and appropriating land and wealth at the expense of the conquered?

    Not to take away from the Lakota and their current withdrawal, which I find proper and encouraging.

    I just feel it’s important to acknowledge the fact that these natives weren’t really too much different from the European “savages” when it came to empire and the killing, slavery and conquest which accompanies it.

  5. shldn said on July 11th, 2008 at 6:28pm #

    …the slaves they had and “owned” were something like the serfs in europe…slaves could married into family’s and they themselves could be seen as an equal once they gained respect….these families were also based on women;
    matrimonial i think is the word.something completely and radically different from western civilization spectrum…In indeginous eyes the way europeans fought wars was savage..for it was far more honorable to blow(not kill) an enemy to the ground..the wars we fought no children and women were slain….something they call victory is massacre for they other
    well i guess the find another way to be an insensitive asshole

  6. shldn said on July 11th, 2008 at 6:31pm #

    …the slaves they had and “owned” were something like the serfs in europe…slaves could married into family’s and they themselves could be seen as an equal once they gained respect….these families were also based on women;
    matrimonial i think is the word.something completely and radically different from the european aspect..In indigenous eyes the way europeans fought wars was savage..for it was far more honorable to blow(not kill) an enemy to the ground..the wars we fought no children and women were slain….something they call victory is massacre for the other
    well i guess the….find another way to be an insensitive ass

  7. shldn said on July 11th, 2008 at 6:32pm #

    thanx david sugar…i hope one day we will all be free from the chains of oppression