Thursday, December 20, 2007

Lakota Indians set new borders?

A delegation for the Lakota Indians are unilaterally withdrawing from treaties they signed with the federal government of the U.S., declaring their independence from the USA. Here are a few articles relating to the news:

Descendants of Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse break away from US

Lakota Indians Withdraw Treaties Signed With U.S. 150 Years Ago

Some might wonder if this is what the CIA might call "blowback" ...following a long trail of events surrounding the mining of resources (among other treaty violations) from Black Hills and other areas of what was supposed to be Sioux/Lakota land.

The Black Hills (originally part of the Pine Ridge Reservation) in South Dakota contain the largest gold mine in the country. Back in 1868, a treaty conferred ownership of the Black Hills to the Sioux, but in the 1870s when gold was discovered (supposedly when General Custer found gold in a river in the area), the great gold rush that followed sparked off what was called the Black Hills War. Remember the Battle of the Little Big Horn?

After defeating the Indians in the late 1870s, the US govt. took control of the area but in 1980 the USA Supreme Court ruled the Black Hills had been taken illegally. Restitution was ordered in the form of nearly $106 million but the Lakota refused the monetary compensation, insisting instead on the return of the land.

The money, held in trust, is now worth approximately $757 million.

Incidentally, the Black Hills also include the Mount Rushmore National Memorial, with its famous giant sculptures of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.

The Pine Ridge Reservation ("the eighth-largest reservation in the United States"), which was originally part of the Great Sioux Reservation established in the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868, is also rich in uranium currently being mined today... something which the native Americans tried to stop without success.

In fact, in the 1970s, the area saw a great deal of violence, culminating in the death of Anna Mae Aquash, a Mi'kmaq activist and member of American Indian Movement (AIM) on February 24, 1976. (If you're curious, and want to learn more about the murder of AIM member, Anna Mae Pictou Aquash originally from Canada, here's one side of the story.)

A WikiPedia article notes: "One of the murders during that period involved a civil rights activist, Ray Robinson, who worked with Martin Luther King, Jesse Jackson and Andrew Young in the 1960s. His body has not been found."

Interestingly, according to the USDA, "in 2002 there was nearly 33 million dollars in receipts from agricultural production on Pine Ridge, yet less than 1/3rd of that income went to members of the tribe."

When you look at all the resources being hauled out of there -- gold, uranium, water, agriculture -- why is it that it is the poorest reservation in the USA?

The Pine Ridge Reservation " probably easily comparable to the least developed countries of the Third World."

Based on the history of the region, things could get messy.

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