“Why Tribes Should Not Withdraw From Treaties”

From RezNet’s TriBaLOG:

Following is a statement from the office of Rodney M. Bordeaux, president of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe:

On December 19th, 2007 four individuals calling themselves the Lakota Freedom Delegation held a press conference at the Plymouth Congregational Church in Washington DC where they announced a plan to withdraw from all Treaties signed by Indian Tribes with the United States.

President Rodney Bordeaux of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe stated that he does not agree with Russell Means’ position that the Sioux tribes should withdraw from the 1851 and 1868 treaties. “Our Grandfathers fought and died for these treaties; they are the backbone of Sioux Tribes’ legal relationship with the United States. They protect our remaining lands, our water, our resources, our Rights and our Sovereignty. Without these treaties, the United States Congress and the multi-national corporations that control it will attempt to steal all the remaining treaty lands and sovereignty we have left through their legal institutions,” he said.

The Treaties signed by representatives of the Great Sioux Nation including the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868 have the same legal force and effect as Treaties signed by the United States with foreign nations. They are part of the Supreme Law of the land under the United States Constitution and recognized under international law. “Those Treaties have the force of law to this day,” Bordeaux said.

Indian Tribes are recognized by the US government and the US Supreme Court as distinct, independent political bodies possessing the powers of self-government of any sovereign nation. There are over 400 Treaties and 5000 federal statutes that establish the relationship between Indian Tribes and the US Government. The US Government has agreed to trust responsibilities in treaties, statutes and regulations to provide members of Indian Tribes with various governmental services including health, education, law enforcement services and to control and protection over Indian lands and our sacred sites.

The Rosebud Sioux Tribe, and all the Sioux Tribes, have constitutions and bylaws approved by the people of the tribes and recognized by the U.S. Government. The Rosebud Sioux Tribe is governed by the Tribal Council elected by the people. “We have between approximately 20,000 tribal members living on or near 900,000 acres of trust land. The Lakota Freedom Delegation does not have any authorization from the Rosebud Sioux Tribe to speak on its behalf.

Chairman Joseph Brings Plenty of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe said that “both the elected and traditional Sioux leadership have been confronting the U. S. Government to restore federally held treaty lands to the tribes, and to provide adequate funding for our services. These are our lands and the treaties are our strength. The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and others in the Great Sioux Nation have been working to get the United States to live up to its treaty obligations.”

Bordeaux added “the United States’ theft of Sioux lands and resources has placed the Sioux people in abject poverty on the reservations. I am in favor of asking countries around the world for foreign aid to rehabilitate our tribes and reservations; the United States Government promised a quid pro quo in the 1877 Black Hills Act that they would provide all necessary “aid” to the Sioux tribes in exchange for the Sioux territory they were illegally attempting to confiscate; still, the United States has never fulfilled these obligations even under this Act. We are already looking to foreign governments in an organized way for help to supplement the inadequate funding that we presently receive from the United States under our treaties. We will continue to safeguard our treaties, our culture and who we are as a sovereign people. Many people, including members of other Tribes fail to understand the importance of Treaties and the foundation they provide for Tribal self-Government and the right of each Tribe to pass its own laws. I encourage everyone to educate themselves on the Treaties and laws governing the Indian Tribes and the relationship with the US”

Brings Plenty said “that what has been said, by these individuals has been talked about around the dinner table since I was a young kid, but these individuals are not representative of the Indian Nation I represent. They have not gone out and received the blessings of the people they say they are speaking for, but fact is fact and the U.S. government has failed to live up the Treaties, there is no justification from our Tribes point of view. Perhaps the group’s action has value in raising awareness to our real history and what happened to our relatives and what sort of future we’re looking at. See David Stannard’s 1992 book, “American Holocaust.” Brings Plenty concluded by stating “I am amazed at how the mainstream Press is giving all this publicity to this group of self-appointed leaders.”

Bordeaux commented, “four individuals should not be allowed to fool the world that the so-called “Republic of Lakotah” is a break-away nation that should be recognized as a nation by countries around the world. It probably all comes down to hoodwinking the public into sending them thousands of dollars that the Sioux people will never see; their website says they received a million and a half hits in one week. Its hard telling how much in donations they have received in our name for which they will probably never be held accountable.” Bordeaux said.

“Of course we want our freedom and our treaties honored! Too much has happened over the last 150 years and the only protection we have left for our lands and resources under U.S. law are our treaties. This is the reality of the real world we live in today! The issue isn’t whether we should withdraw from our treaties; the issue is what we should do, and what we should have been doing, to enforce our treaties and to make a better life for our future generations, stated President Rodney Bordeaux.”

This article is a release from the office of Rodney M. Bordeaux, the president of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe.

3 thoughts on ““Why Tribes Should Not Withdraw From Treaties”

  1. greenspider January 15, 2008 / 4:22 am

    President Bordeaux and Chairman Brings Plenty may begrudge Mr Means’ group their moment in the sun but they are the largest presence seen from Indian country in years. The leaders talk about how they want the U.S. to honor the treaties and they talk about all of the wrongs, but what is being done to get this to happen?
    Talk is cheap. Action is measurable. Means’ group is putting the injustices into the media spotlight.
    If one good thing comes from this group’s efforts it will all have been worth it.

  2. Alex March 6, 2008 / 4:50 am

    Al Jazeera International have reported on this story:

Comments are closed.