Posted on October 2, 2012
America betrayed them and all Native Peoples. Throughout US history and earlier, genocide was policy.
Historian Ward Churchill explained four centuries of
systematic slaughter. It went on from 1492 – 1892. It continues today
against Native culture.
Churchill estimated around 100 million Native People throughout the
Americas “hacked apart with axes and swords, burned alive and trampled
under horses, hunted as game and fed to dogs, shot, beaten, stabbed,
scalped for bounty, hanged on meathooks and thrown over the sides of
ships at sea, worked to death as slave laborers, intentionally starved
and frozen to death during a multitude of forced marches and
internments, and, in an unknown number of instances, deliberately
infected with epidemic diseases.”
Destruction of their culture continues in new forms. “The American
holocaust was and remains unparalleled, in terms of its scope, ferocity,
and continuance over time.”
Silence and denial suppress what happened and goes on today. Try
finding coverage anywhere by America’s major media. Virtually nothing is
said, let alone explained.
Survivors represent a tiny fraction of original numbers. They also
symbolize a longstanding US tradition of butchery and viciousness.
After centuries of systematic slaughter, Census Bureau data estimated
around a quarter-million US survivors. Those living struggle to get by.
Raphael Lemkin defined genocide as:
“the destruction of a nation or of an ethnic group” that corresponds
to other terms like “tyrannicide, homicide, infanticide, etc.” (It) does
not necessarily mean the destruction of a nation, except when
accomplished by mass killings….It is intended….to signify a coordinated
plan (to destroy) the essential foundations of the life of national
groups” with the intent to eradicate or substantially weaken or harm
“Genocidal plans involve the disintegration….of political and social
institutions, culture, language, national feelings, religion, economic
existence, personal security, liberty, health, dignity, and” human
The 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide Convention defines it legally as:
“any (acts like those above) committed with intent to destroy, in
whole or in part, the national, ethnical, racial or religious group (by)
killing (its) members; causing (them) serious bodily or mental harm;
(or) deliberately inflicting (on them) conditions” that may destroy them
in whole or in part.
Destroying peoples’ cultures, preventing them from practicing their
religion, speaking their language, and/or passing on their traditions to
new generations are genocidal acts.
Constitutional provisions don’t let government abuse people or deny
them their rights. They don’t authorize genocide, either within or
outside the country. They don’t permit theft and occupation of their
lands or any others.
Nonetheless, binding principles are spurned. America, Israel, and
rogue NATO partners violate them with impunity. Crimes of war, against
humanity, and genocide are official policy. Millions of corpses bear
On December 17, 2007, a delegation of Lakota people went to Washington. They declared independence. They called it “the latest step in the longest running legal battle” in history.
It’s not a cessation, they said. It’s a lawful “unilateral
withdrawal” from treaty obligations permitted under the 1969 Vienna
Convention on the Law of Treaties.
At the time, American Indian Movement (AIM) leader Russell Means said:
“We are no longer citizens of the United States of America and all
those who live in the five-state area that encompasses our country are
free to join us.”
“We offer citizenship to anyone provided they renounce their US citizenship.”
“United States colonial rule is at an end.”
Signed documents were delivered to the State Department. Sovereignty
was declared. The Republic of Lakota was established. It’s based on the
1851 Treaty of Fort Laramie. It created the Great Lakota (Sioux) Nation.
It states in part:
“The territory of the Sioux or Dahcotah Nation, commencing the mouth
of the White Earth River, on the Missouri River; thence in a
southwesterly direction to the forks of the Platte River; thence up the
north fork of the Platte River to a point known as the Red Buts, or
where the road leaves the river; thence along the range of mountains
known as the Black Hills, to the head-waters of Heart River; thence down
Heart River to its mouth; and thence down the Missouri River to the
place of beginning.”
It gave Lakota people portions of northern Nebraska, half of South
Dakota, one-fourth of North Dakota, one-fifth of Montana, and another
20% of Wyoming.
Unilateral withdrawal from all treaties and agreements became policy. America never honored its own. More on that below.
Earlier events led to the 2007 declaration. In 1974, 5,000
International Indian Treaty Council delegates, representing 97 North and
South American Indigenous People, signed a Declaration of Continuing
It was a “Manifesto representing the wisdom of thousands of people,
the Ancestors, and the Great Mystery supports the rights of Indigenous
Nations to live free and to take whatever actions are necessary for
Numerous elders approved it. They represented ancestors born to live free. They gave delegates two mandates:
- Gain international recognition. In September 2007, the UN Declaration of Indigenous Rights affirmed it.
- ”We must always remember that we were once a free People. If we don’t, we shall cease to be Lakota.”
The right to return to their original free and independent status was asserted. On December 17, 2007, they declared it formally.
In United States v. Sioux Nation (1980), the Supreme Court upheld a
$105 million award to eight Sioux tribes. It was compensation for lost
land. It was lawlessly taken.
The Court, however, denied what Sioux people most wanted – their land
back. As a result, they refused the money. They reasserted their
Thirty-two years of compound interest makes the 1980 award worth $400
million today. It’s a tiny fraction of what Sioux people lost. They
demand and deserve what’s rightfully theirs. America’s highest court has
no sovereignty over their rights. Neither does political Washington.
Lakota people say US law supports them. America systematically broke
treaties and stole their land. It’s theirs and they want it back. The
Republic of Lakota claims it.
On September 29, 2012 Means reiterated what he and others declared in December 2007, saying:
“We are no longer citizens of the United States of America and all
those who live in the five state area that encompasses our country are
free to join us.”
He cited longstanding problems and grievances. They include land
theft, resource plunder, poverty, unemployment, repression, and overall
human depravation. All of it remains out of sight and mind.
The Republic of Lakota described ongoing genocide as follows:
Life expectancy for Lakota men is less than 44 years. It’s the lowest
of all sovereign countries. It’s the highest in America. Infant
mortality is threefold higher than the US average. Diseases are a major
problem. “Cancer is now at epidemic proportions.”
Teenage suicide is150% higher than America’s average. One-fourth of
Lakota children are fostered or adopted by non-Native people. Doing so
destroys their identity and culture. Ward Churchill calls it killing the
Indian, saving the man.
Tuberculosis is 800% higher than America’s average. Cervical cancer
is fivefold higher. Diabetes is eight times the national average. The
Federal Commodity Food Program provides high-sugar foods. They
contribute to poor health.
Annual median income is $2,600 – $3,500. Poverty affects 97% of
Lakotans. Many families can’t afford essentials most people take for
granted. In winter, many use ovens for heat. Simple luxuries are unheard
of. Life is hard, merciless, punishing, and unrelenting.
It’s 80% or higher. Government corruption, cronyism, and indifference destroy normal living opportunities.
In winter, elderly people die from hypothermia. They freeze to death
for lack of heat. One-third of homes lack clean water and sewage. About
40% have no electricity. About 60% of families have no telephone.
Another 60% of homes are infected with potentially fatal black molds.
On average, 17 people reside in each household. Many have two to three
rooms. Some homes built for six to eight people have up to 30 in them.
(6) Drugs and Alcohol
Over half of adults battle addiction and disease. Alcoholism affects
90% of families. Two known methamphetamine labs operate. Authorities
haven’t closed them.
Indian children imprisonment exceed whites by 40%. Native People
comprise 2% of South Dakota’s population. They account for 21% of those
Indians have the second highest state prison incarceration rate in
America. Most live on federal reservations. Less than 2% are where
states have jurisdiction.
It’s threatened with extinction. It’s federal policy to destroy it.
Only 14% of Lakotans speak their language. It’s not shared
The average fluent Lakotan speaker is 65 years old. In another
generation or less, perhaps few or none will remain. Lakotan language
skills aren’t allowed or taught in US government schools. Nor is much of
anything about native history and culture. America wants it destroyed
Lakotan struggle began with the 1803 Louisiana Purchase. They call it
“fantasy” US history. France sold America 530 million Native land acres
for $15 million. Lakotans owned part of it. They and other Native
people weren’t consulted.
They’ve been systematically ignored and violated. From 1778 – 1871,
Washington negotiated 372 treaties. Their provisions were systematically
America’s winning the West involved invading, encroaching, stealing,
and occupying their lands. That’s how imperialism works. It’s the same
Throughout the 19th century (and earlier), Washington engaged in
military, legal, and political battles against Native Peoples. Their
rights were contemptuously denied. They were displaced and exterminated.
That’s how today’s America was created.
The 1851 Treaty of Fort Laramie was systematically violated. So were
provisions of all other treaties. From 1866 – 1868, Washington let the
Bozeman trail go through the “Heart of the Lakota Nation.”
It was a short cut to Montana’s gold fields. Military forts were
built on stolen land along its route. Doing so violated 1851 treaty
provisions. Battles ensued. Washington negotiated peace. The 1868 Fort
Laramie Treaty followed. Native People thought they won. Victory was
pyrrhic and illusory.
The Supreme Court’s 1883 ex parte Crow Dog decision made no
difference. The Court recognized Lakotah freedom and independence. It
ruled that tribes held exclusive jurisdiction over their internal
affairs. It didn’t matter.
The transcontinental railroad facilitated development, land and resource theft.
In 1885, Congress passed the Major Crimes Act. It extended US
jurisdiction into Lakota territory. The same year, the last of the great
buffalo herds were exterminated. At one time, they numbered 60 million.
Native People relied on them for food.
In 1887, Congress passed the General Allotment Act (the Dawes Act).
It ended communal ownership of reservation lands. It distributed
160-acre “allotments” to individual Indians. Tribes lost millions of
acres. Wealthy ranchers exploit them today.
In 1888, Congress began prohibiting Indian Spiritual and Prayer
Ceremonies. It was part of destroying Native culture. In 1891, a
Commissioner of Indian Affairs was authorized. It was to assure Native
People obeyed white man’s laws.
Many more abuses followed. In Lone Wolf v. Hitchcock (1903), the
Supreme Court extralegally recognized near absolute plenary
congressional power over Indian affairs.
It let US authorities steal tribal lands and resources freely. They
did so on the pretext of fulfilling federal responsibilities.
Doing so abrogated fundamental indigenous rights unilaterally. The
ruling was used to violate hundreds of treaties. Like other Native
Peoples, Lakotans were grievously harmed.
Their sacred Black Hills were stolen. So were valued resources on
them. Lakotans want back what’s rightfully theirs. Their ancestors
thought the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty granted them victory. They were
Yet in 1904, even after Lone Wolf v. Hitchcock, some believed the
Treaty was “the only instance in the history of the United States where
the government has gone to war and afterwards negotiated a peace
conceding everything demanded by the enemy and exacting nothing in
Until the 1924 Indian Citizenship Act, Native People got what no one
had the right to deny them in the first place. In fact, rights afforded
them nominally never existed in fact.
The entire history of Native People in America reflects horrific
struggles lost. From 1492 to today, they experienced promises made and
broken. Disenfranchized people remain. Most are bereft of hope.
On reservations or assimilated, they’re out of sight and mind. Once
they lived peacefully on their own land. White settlers changed things.
Western civilization destroyed their way of life. There’s nothing
civilized about it.
They’re either ignored, mocked, or demonized in films and society.
They’re called drunks, beasts, primitives, and savages. America always
was a white supremacist society.
Rich powerful elites run it. Native People and most others don’t
matter. They’re systematically used and abused. They’re not served. It’s
the American way.
About the Author: Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled “How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War”
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