Friday, 4 January 2008

Lakotah Nation

I just saw this on Wikipedia, and I think it's interesting news.

On December 25, 2007, a man named Russell Means and, presumably, supporters of his idea declared the Lakotah peoples withdrawn from their treaties with the United States of America. According to him, the Republic of Lakotah is an independent sovereign state within the geography most of us recognise as part of the States. He discusses issuing passports and driver's licenses in the nation's name.

(Note: in case you don't know, Lakotah are Native American people, part of the Sioux. They occupy land mainly in North and South Dakota.)

The Republic of Lakotah would be run as the post-contact Lakotah nations were: this is described as a libertarian, decentralised government with caveat emptor (buyer beware, loosely) and posse comitatus (the right of a sherrif to conscript abel-bodied men for police duty) legal systems. Taxation would be local and strictly consentual. They likely would not operate under a currency system like that of Canada or the US.

As it stands, the Republic of Lakotah has no where been recognised as a sovereign nation, though Means claims Ireland and a few other countries are interested--whatever that means. The some of the elders of the other Lakotah reservations have said that Means has made this declaration without their consent, and in fact has done so despite the lack of support from the Lakotah people themselves. The US government's official stance is that this declaration is irrelevant coming from Means because he has no authority to make the decision. In my ill-informed opinion, I suggest that this will blow over sometime in the fairly near future because the declaration has no real sticking power.

This event instead serves to highlight the mistreat of Aboriginal peoples by the American government--and, need it be said, by the Canadian government as well. It asks that we re-examine our relationship with previous sovereign nations (though the system of sovereignty has left them out, I suppose because they were not part of its founding in Eurasia) of our continent. I will state clearly that I do not suggest that it is possible or even necessary to grant sovereignty to Native American tribes or attempt to return all claimed land. Land return is problematic because a) the nomadic lifestyles of pre-contact American society does not mesh well with borders and b) the original territories are under dispute be parties that warred pre-contact. Further, I don't care for the idea of disinheriting people who, in their own actions and not of their ancestors, have done no ill in the acquisition of land. However, that being said, the relationship is strained and needs examining, and this incident shows this well.

For my sources of information:

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