'Those who control the energy control the economics'
By Steve Miller
February 09, 2008
Two months after announcing that the newly formed Republic of Lakotah
had seceded from the United States, organizer Russell Means outlined
plans for a wind-energy project for citizens of the new country.
At a meeting in Rapid City on Saturday, Means said he has been
talking with representatives of a California company about plans to
put windmills on land owned by both Native Americans and non-Natives
willing to become citizens of the new Republic of Lakotah. He
declined to name the company.
Means, a longtime activist, said he and other organizers have met
with tribal members of the Standing Rock, Rosebud and Yankton Sioux
tribes. Windmills could be sprouting on the Standing Rock, Rosebud
and possibly Pine Ridge reservations this spring, he said.
Means said the new country's formation is based on law, especially
the U.S. Constitution, and he said the wind-energy project is based
on economic reality. "Those who control the energy control the
economics," Means said in a brief interview after Saturday's meeting,
attended by about 25 people. Means said he was disappointed that
besides news media, no white people attended.
Under the energy plan, each landowner would be paid a lease for the
windmills on his property, would receive free electricity and would
receive a share of any profits from the sale of excess energy.
Means said the west-central plains constitute a wind tunnel that has
the potential to provide enough energy for America's large cities.
In December, Means, who lives in Porcupine, said he and other Lakota
tribal members were renouncing treaties and their U.S. citizenship
and were withdrawing from the United States.
He said the new Republic of Lakotah encompasses land in North Dakota,
South Dakota, Nebraska, Montana and Wyoming.
Means said the homestead acts, allotment acts and the 1877 sale of
the Black Hills to the U.S. government are all illegal, under Article
6 of the Constitution.
"All of the people living in our land are outlaws," Means said. "All
of the states are outlaws."
He also called existing tribal governments "collaborators in genocide."
But Means, one of the early leaders in the American Indian Movement,
said the new country's organizers do not seek confrontation. "We want
to live within the law," he said.
"We are legal and, most important, we are lawful," he said. "There
aren't going to be any Wounded Knees," he said, referring to AIM's
71-day standoff with federal and tribal authorities on the Pine Ridge
reservation village in 1973.
Means predicted that existing city, county and state governments, as
well as tribal governments, would continue but eventually wither away
as the new country flourishes.
Rosebud Sioux Tribal President Rodney Bordeaux said last month that
Means does not represent his tribe. Other tribal presidents and
chairmen have not responded to requests for comments from the Journal.
Means acknowledged that people have been skeptical in meetings about
the new country and the energy project. But he said some have become
convinced to join the effort.
"We represent only the freedom-seeking Lakota," he told the group.
He said the Republic of Lakotah would consist of a loose
confederation of communities, with the communities retaining local
control. There would be no federal taxes, no military force and no
police, he said.
He said the country would establish a central bank, with currency
based on gold and silver.
Means has espoused Libertarian politics in recent years, although he
said he wasn't supporting anyone in the presidential election.
"That's not my country anymore," he said.
He said since the announcement in December of the Republic of
Lakotah, doctors, nurses and teachers from elsewhere have volunteered
to serve the new country.
"We say welcome to the Republic of Lakotah, as long as you're self-sufficient."
He said the new country and the wind-energy project could be a way to
help preserve a rural way of life for non-Native Americans.
Means said he is in the process of transferring deeded land he owns
in Shannon County to the new Republic of Lakotah, which would not be
subject to property taxes. He expects to end up in court with Shannon
County over the issue.
Means introduced Jerry Collette of Asheville, N.C., who he said is
the interim attorney general for the new country.
Collette said the new country's message isn't "Yankee Go Home. It's
Yankee government go home," Collette said.
Means said he would travel to Washington soon to represent the new
republic to foreign embassies.
One member of the audience, Madonna Thunder Hawk of Swift Bird on the
Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation, said she had some questions
initially but favors the new country and the wind project. "We have
to do something," Thunder Hawk said. "We can't always be sitting back
waiting for something to happen."
Contact Steve Miller at 394-8417 or firstname.lastname@example.org.