Comments on a Lakota
Declaration of Sovereignty

On July 14, 1991 the Lakota Confederacy of the Black Hills (Lakota, Northern Cheyenne, and Arapahoe) made a "Declaration of Sovereignty" based on jurisdictional grounds which terminated the "colonial occupation and interests of the territory defined as 'permanent indian territory'" in the 1851 and 1868 Treaties of Fort Laramie.

In the Fort Laramie Treaty of April 29, 1868 it was pledged by Wasichu that the

"Great Sioux Reservation, including the Black Hills, would be 'set apart for the absolute and undisturbed use and occupation of the Indians named established the Great Sioux Reservation, a tract of land [comprising most of South Dakota west of the Missouri River] in addition to certain reservations already existing east of the Missouri. The United States 'solemnly agree[d]' that no unauthorized persons 'shall ever be permitted to pass over, settle upon, or reside in [this] territory."

Yeah, right!

But there was gold in the Black Hills. So the Army went in under Custer, Son of the Morning Star (a great book by the way), and as a result of his "descriptions of the mineral and timber resources of the Black Hills, and the land's suitability for grazing and cultivation...," the Wasichu masses started chomping at the bit, wanting in.

On the one hand Wasichu attempted to enforce the Laramie Treaty, on the other Congress was petitioned to "open up the country for settlement, by extinguishing the treaty rights of Indians." The Army then backed off on trying to keep prospectors out of the Black Hills, in effect giving them the green light to swarm where they had no right to go.

An attempt to purchase mining rights was made. The Sioux rejected an offer of an annual rental fee of $400,000 per year or a one time payment of $6 million for absolute relinquishment of the Black Hills. They wanted a minimum of $70 million. Negotiations failed...

That the abrogation of the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie was a farce is no secret. As per Federal Indian Law-Cases and Materials, Getches, Wilkinson and Williams, Jr. pp.359-360:

A commission "headed by George Maypenny, arrived in the Sioux country in early September [1876] and commenced meetings with the head men of the various tribes...The commissioners brought with them the text of a treaty that had been prepared in advance. The principal provisions of this treaty were that the Sioux should relinquish their rights to the Black Hills and other lands west of the one hundred and third meridian, and their rights to hunt in the unceded territories to the north, in exchange for subsistence rations as long as they would be needed to insure the Sioux survival. In setting out to obtain the tribes' agreement to this treaty, the commissioners ignored the stipulation of the Fort Laramie Treaty that any cession of the lands contained within the Great Sioux Reservation would have to be joined in by three-fourths of the adult males. Instead, the treaty was signed by only 10 percent of the adult male Sioux population.

"Congress resolved the impasse [read that as patently illegal act] by enacting the 1876 'agreement' into law as the Act of Feb. 28, 1877. The Act had the effect of abrogating the earlier Fort Laramie Treaty, and of implementing the terms of the Maypenny Commission's 'agreement' with the Sioux leaders. The passage of the 1877 Act legitimized the settlers' invasion of the Black Hills...

The Lakota Confederacy has charged the United States with treaty fraud and proposed that a treaty based on fraud is invalid. It was also stated that

"...Any attempt to supplant the legitimate sovereignty of the Lakota by the absorption of territory without the course of negotiations must be considered as an unlawful premature annexation."

So...the Sioux, after the fact, sued Wasichu alleging that the Black Hills were taken without "just compensation." Bad move in my opinion. Bad in the sense that there, probably, could have been no just compensation in the first place. How much of a price do you put on your heart? It might have been better to sue on the grounds of theft and procedural violation.

Nevertheless, it was established in 1946 by the Indian Claims Commission that the Black Hills were indeed "taken," that the "1877 Act constituted a taking under the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution and that the Black Hills had been acquired through unfair and dishonorable dealings," and that the Sioux were entitled to $17.55 million for gold and land taken. [The Homestake Gold Mine in the Black Hills, in operation since the U.S. Army invaded the region and removed the Lakota people, has produced more than a thousand tons of pure gold, worth over $14 billion today.]

In 1978, after the inevitable Wasichu appeal, it was "legally" established that the Sioux were entitled to the 17.55 million plus annual interest accrued at 5 percent per year starting in 1877. My understanding as regards any "payment," is that the Sioux have refused to touch such and that it remains in some bank accruing interest.

The refusal to have anything to do with dollar compensation did not entirely rest with dissatisfaction at the amount awarded. Prior to the settlement many of the eight Sioux [Nations] recognized that the acceptance of money would forever sever them from "title" to what they had lost. Attorneys were notified that the Sioux wished to have no part in settlement. In a number of instances attorney contracts had expired and the Tribes notified the Court that they were opposed to any monetary settlement. Rather, they wished to have a return of their land. Despite this the Claims Commission settled with a monetary award. Six of the eight Tribes appealed and tried to get their attorneys dimissed from the case. The appeal was denied. A dissenting judge stated that...

"Most of these [attorney] contracts have terminated and are no longer in effect. It is inconcievable to me that, with over half the clientele in loud revolt, nominal councel has the authority to bind these tribes, against their intentions and instructions. Further, the United States as well as the Claims Court had full knowledge, throughout the past years of these proceeding, that most of the principals objected to the negotiations and to the projected settlement."

Yet the Court ruled the settlement valid.

Time for a song:

Oh, say can you see by the dawn's early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilights last gleaming.
Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched were so glallantly streaming?
And the rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air
Gave proof thru the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the mornings first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
'Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And where is the band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion,
A home and a country should leave us no more!
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps' pollution.
No refuge can save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave

Oh! Thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war's desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav'n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us as a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto:In God is our trust.
And the star-bangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

After the 1978 decision the Oglala Sioux Tribe [Nation] sued to reject the award and sought to regain their rights to the Black Hills. The Courts rejected their suit saying that "Congress had provided an exclusive remedy for wrongful taking of Indian lands in passing the Indian Claims Commission Act."

Interest continues to accrue.

Black Hills Thievery, Part One

Black Hills Thievery, Part Two

First Nations Page