Lakota Freedom Delegation says spokesman Russell Means 'hijacked' organization

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Saturday, January 5, 2008

File:Russell Means press conference.JPG
Russell Means at a press conference in Washington, D.C. on December 19, 2007.
Image: Naomi Archer.

Wikinews has learned that the Lakota Freedom Delegation, also known as Lakotah Oyate, an organization of activists fighting for the Sioux Indian Nation to withdraw all treaties with the United States, was "hijacked" by its spokesman, Russell Means, an activist for Native American Indians.

On December 19, 2007, Means and the "delegation" went to Washington, D.C. and hand-delivered a letter, signed by the Delegation, to the U.S. State Department claiming that the Lakota Indian Tribe was declaring that all treaties between the tribe and the U.S. have been withdrawn or canceled. They also held a press conference declaring their freedom.

"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. This is according to the laws of the United States, specifically article six of the constitution," said Means during the press conference.

Since then, Russell Means has gone on to announce the formation of a "provisional government" of the "Republic of Lakotah" with himself as Chief Facilitator, as well as to promote the establishment of a bank and a utility company for the country. Despite the claim Means has made, Naomi Archer, liaison of Lakotah Oyate stated to Wikinews that Means took control of the organization and hijacked it and its website on December 29. Archer also said that Lakotah Oyate or the delegation are not a government entity and do not make decisions for the Nation.

"The legitimate actions of the Lakota people are not determined by one person [Russell Means] or even one group, but by the [Lakota] people themselves," added Archer.

Logo of the Republic of Lakotah.
Image: Republic of Lakotah.

Other signers of the withdrawal letter are all still involved in the movement, including Canupa Gluha Mani who heads the Strong Heart Warrior Society which will "probably become the paramilitary force" of Lakotah, said Archer. Wikinews asked Archer if Means would still be involved in the movement, but she refused to comment.

The Bank of Lakotah and Provisional Government of Lakota are not supported by Lakotah Oyate; Means is acting without having consulted the other elders of Lakotah; Means is himself, at age 69 [sic], an elder, and "people need their elders to set better examples than that," said Archer.

Map of the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie. Gold area: Lakota Nation Reserved by the 1868 Treaty for the unreserved use of the Lakota people. Orange: 1876 Lakota reservation after the US seized the Black Hills. Maroon: Lakota reservations after 100 years of court actions.
Image: Republic of Lakotah.

While the idea of establishing a power company, bank, and other such institutions was an idea that had come from Means and the rest of Lakotah Freedom Delegation knew that he was going off to Washington D.C. on his own to conduct negotiations, they did not know what the negotiations were going to be regarding. Lakotah Oyate hopes that this dispute will be resolved in a few weeks because this "all has to be about the people".

Since the Delegation's press conference, the Rosebud Sioux Tribe and the Cheyenne River Reservation have rejected Means's and the delegation's declaration of secession.

"They're individuals acting on their own. They did not come to the Rosebud Sioux tribal council or our government in any way to get our support and we do not support what they've done. We do not support what Means and his group are doing and they don't have any support from any tribal government I know of. They don't speak for us," said Rosebud Sioux Tribe president, Rodney Bordeaux.

Despite those rejections, Archer said that the Pine Ridge Reservation's council may "consider the proposal." A representative for the Standing Rock Reservation's council has said that that reservation is also considering Lakotah Oyate's proposal. Lakotah Oyate have also been holding discussions with "about 150" other indigenous organizations in the U.S. and mentioned particularly the Native Hawaiians.


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