By FinalCall.com News
Jan 24, 2008
Russell Means was born an Oglala/Lakotah in 1939, on the Pine Ridge
Indian Reservation near the Black Hills. In the late 60s he decided
to put his energy into fighting for Indian rights with The American
Indian Movementbecoming their first national director. For more than
thirty years, he has traveled extensively throughout the world
fighting for the rights of the indigenous people.
On December 19, 2007, in a bold and unprecedented move, he led the
Lakotah Freedom Delegation in declaring that that the Lakotah Nation
is formally and unilaterally withdrawing from all agreements and
treaties with the government of the United States. The delegation
also delivered signed documents to the State Department informing
them of the decision to formally declare sovereignty from the United
States as a result of its genocidal assault on the political,
cultural and economic freedom in what is now called The Republic of Lakotah.
In this exclusive interview with the Assistant Editor of The Final
Call, Ashahed M. Muhammad, Russell Means discussed the details of the
declaration, their plans to establish full sovereignty and the
characteristics of their provisional government.
The Final Call (FC): Specifically, what does the Lakotah sovereignty
declaration mean and what is it based on?
Russell Means (RM): We unilaterally withdrew from our treaties and
agreement with the United States of America. That is backed by
Article 6 of the U.S. Constitution along with other amendments and
also backed by the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties which the
entire international community including the United States of America
signed into effect in 1980. So legally, we have returned to the
position we held prior to the signing of the treaties which makes us
free and independent. According to national and international law, we
are legally within our rights to be independent and free. Also, in
the acts from Congress that enabled those five states to become
states, those states expressly said they would not interfere with our
affairs. Representatives of the freedom seeking Lakotah Nation signed
and delivered the documents. We do not represent the tribal
governments. The tribal governments are representatives of the United
States and the colonial apartheid system of America. In order to save
our people, our nation our language, our ways of life, our value
systems, we have to withdraw.
Geographically, how much land is covered by the Republic of Lakotah
and how many people currently live in that territory?
RM: The area covers, two-thirds of northern Nebraska, one-half of
South Dakota, about one-forth of North Dakota, twenty percent of
Montana and twenty percent of Wyoming. Indians and non-Indians, about
1.5 million people live there.
FC: In your writings and speeches, you have drawn many parallels
between the experiences of the indigenous people, the apartheid
government in South Africa, and the occupied Palestinian territories.
It appears that you are saying that wherever unjust land
appropriation policies are found, they all have the same origins.
RM: Exactly! Hitler wrote that the American policy of creating
reservations for the unclean and the unwanted was the perfect
solution for race, and (using) that example he created the
concentration camps for the gypsies, Jewish people and homosexuals.
The Bantu Development Act of 1964 which institutionalized apartheid
in South Africa is a copy of the Indian Reorganization Act of America
which was passed thirty years before. What happened to us was the
genesis and example for all land appropriations the world overthat
includes Palestine. Our people are being exterminated, much like the
African slaves were exterminated from their homeland and separated
from their way of life. The apartheid system is the most lethal
colonial policy ever created, and you have to hand it to the United
States of America. They are very good at eradicating human beings in
all ways physically, spiritually and economically.
FC: Are you expecting either mass migration into or out of the
Lakotah territories as a result of this declaration?
RM: We know that there will not be a mass migration out of our
territory. We've offered citizenship to anyone who wants to become
Lakotah, provided they renounce their U.S. citizenship and apply for
citizenship with our Nation. We know that all of those Americans and
many of the Indian people in those states are not going to renounce
their citizenship. We have no illusions about that, however, our
nation will not have taxes and we will have individual liberty
through community control.
FC: What will happen to those who live in the area but do not want to
leave the land or their property they have purchased?
RM: The power we have is based on U.S. law. The negotiation tool that
we will use with the city, county and state governments is the power
to put a lien on any and all real estate transactions in that
five-state region. What that does is that it puts the burden of proof
on the seller of the real estate. They have to prove that the lien is
invalid. Well, based on the U.S. Constitution, we own the land.
Therefore, if we choose to do that, the real estate market in those
five state areas will absolutely totally collapse. That is the power
that we possess. They have a problem with their government because
their government defrauded them. They bought property believing that
the property was free and clear. It isn't. We own it.
(For more information and to read the treaties and documents online,