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Lakota Indians Declare Independence
December 20, 2007 6:01 AM   Subscribe

The Lakota People have withdrawn from their treaties with the United States, citing numerous violations of those treaties by the US. They plan to start their own country, issuing passports and drivers' licenses and living tax-free.
posted by JDHarper (222 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite

 
I fear this is only the beginning of the Balkanization of the US, but godspeed to them.
posted by orthogonality at 6:07 AM on December 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


This. Is. Awesome.

Please tell me that there's actually some binding law behind this, and that it's not just a toothless publicity stunt.
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:10 AM on December 20, 2007


Oh, and nice use of the "indepdence" tag.
/snark

posted by Faint of Butt at 6:10 AM on December 20, 2007


I wonder if the term "Vichy Indians" will catch on? Didn't see that one coming!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:14 AM on December 20, 2007


The idea of Indian reserves or reservations is out of date. Their original purpose was little more than serving as a large, open air prison - "stay on these lands and stop attacking our wagon trains and villages" (ironic, sure). They should all either be declared autonomous nations or absorbed into the rest of the country.
posted by billysumday at 6:17 AM on December 20, 2007


Terrorists! Evil Doers! If you're not with us, you're agai...wait. I guess you already said that.
posted by fusinski at 6:17 AM on December 20, 2007


As much as I'd *like* to believe otherwise, this isn't the Balkanization of anything. Without a massive military-industrial complex and nuclear weapons behind them this amounts to an empty gesture by a couple of nutjobs, or at best some populist-themed brinksmanship aimed at securing some sort of federal concessions to avoid a nasty PR situation.

North Dakota? South Dakota? I'd bet anything you'd care to name that right next to their borders you'll find major ICBM launch facilities. The US government would be out of its goddamn mind to let them move forward with this, and *they're* out of their goddamn minds to even try it without a major sea port at the very least. How would they conduct major trade? How would any allies they could possibly secure - even if the US didn't completely and utterly dominate all the world's oceans - provide them material aid?
posted by Ryvar at 6:18 AM on December 20, 2007


They should all either be declared autonomous nations or absorbed into the rest of the country.

Or deported!
posted by fusinski at 6:18 AM on December 20, 2007 [7 favorites]


Does this mean we have to invade them now?
posted by zorro astor at 6:18 AM on December 20, 2007 [4 favorites]


Wow. Go, Indians. I can't say we don't deserve it. I expected the picture of Russell Means to show some rash young upstart, and yet he's a respectable middle-aged man. I hope this isn't a publicity stunt, also, as FOB said above.
posted by misha at 6:19 AM on December 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


Free Leonard Peltier!
posted by OmieWise at 6:19 AM on December 20, 2007 [2 favorites]


Although, reading those stories, I'm not sure if they are referring to a current reservation or a mass of land that was designated in the 19th century. Either way, I'm sure that the United States will find numerous examples of why the Lakota failed to uphold their end of the treaty, fair or not, and this movement will go nowhere. Sadly.
posted by billysumday at 6:21 AM on December 20, 2007


Whether or not this works depends on how serious the tribal leaders are. If they're truly dedicated to independence, then they've plowed a bunch of casino money into lawyers and are willing to work with their (former) state and federal governments to let them retain a measure of influence over the conduct of Lakota affairs (e.g. extradition treaties, reciprocity of certain laws, etc). True secession happens either slowly and carefully or with violence.

If, as I suspect, said leaders are more interested in press releases than international law, then this will not end well.
posted by xthlc at 6:23 AM on December 20, 2007


misha writes "he's a respectable middle-aged man"

Well. Ahem. He ran for vice-president on a Republican ticket with Larry Flynt, and would have been the Libertarian's candidate in 1988 if Ron Paul hadn't beaten him for the nomination. Yeah, that Larry Flynt and that Ron Paul. MoRon Paultards!
posted by orthogonality at 6:26 AM on December 20, 2007 [2 favorites]


Ryvar: *they're* out of their goddamn minds to even try it without a major sea port at the very least. How would they conduct major trade?

Lesotho and Swaziland have survived as independent, landlocked nations within South Africa. Of course, they have the benefit of a) being fairly large in comparison to the Lakota reservations, and b) being part of the Commonwealth. They are also desperately poor and suffering under a %40 HIV infection rate, so they may not be the best counterexamples.

How about San Marino? Europe has plenty of landlocked microstates due to historical reasons.
posted by xthlc at 6:30 AM on December 20, 2007


I expected the picture of Russell Means to show some rash young upstart, and yet he's a respectable middle-aged man.

As someone reminded daily of his own advancing decrepitude, I am in favor of broadening the term "middle-aged" to include a man who's nearly seventy. Without realizing it, though, you have probably seen Russell Means before.

It does sound very stunty to me; I can't imagine they're serious, for the reasons that Ryvar outlines above. Plus. I'm no history buff, but it seems to me that seceding from the US has a tendency to not work out all that well.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:30 AM on December 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


Do they have universal health care? Hmm, perhaps I'll get residency. I for one welcome our new sphygmomanometer-wielding Lakota overlords.

On another note, maybe this is the beginning of the Snow Crash U.S.
posted by chips ahoy at 6:32 AM on December 20, 2007


Fuck Yeah. Nice.

And Ryvar, why do you assume the US would say Fuck You right off the bat. Maybe the US would cede them land and let them govern themselves, trade with them, etc. Well, you know, maybe.
posted by chunking express at 6:32 AM on December 20, 2007


Let's say, for argument's sake, that the Lakota somehow manage to convince the rest of the world that they're a sovereign nation. We can be pretty sure the US will roll right in and start arresting Lakota for non-payment of taxes. What then? Canadians crossing the border to defend them? That'd be rad.

Pass the bong, man...
posted by uncleozzy at 6:34 AM on December 20, 2007 [2 favorites]


chunking express writes "Maybe the US would cede them land and let them govern themselves, trade with them, etc."

Yeah, it would be convenient to have a place that's not under US legal jurisdiction, so we could relocated Guantanamo closer to home. Those Indians know about Indian burns and hanging prisoners from hooks in their chests and other clever forms of "extreme interrogation", right?
posted by orthogonality at 6:36 AM on December 20, 2007 [3 favorites]


There's no way they'll let these folks secede. If they did, well, pretty quick everyone would want to be free, and we can't have that.
posted by Malor at 6:36 AM on December 20, 2007 [2 favorites]


Oh, and nice use of the "indepdence" tag.
Ouch. Nice. Thanks. Fixed.
posted by JDHarper at 6:39 AM on December 20, 2007


Those Indians know....

Indians are from India. Fuck.
posted by chunking express at 6:40 AM on December 20, 2007


Screw this. Next we'll have the 'nation of white supremecists' and the 'nation of laws that dont apply to me' or wait we had that and it was called the civil war and that didnt work out too well did it?
posted by damn dirty ape at 6:48 AM on December 20, 2007


Please tell me that there's actually some binding law behind this, and that it's not just a toothless publicity stunt.
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:10 AM on December 20


It's a publicity stunt. There isn't any binding law on this, except the Constitution, which specifically forbids this. Furthermore, those treaties are no longer in effect, having been superseded many times over by federal law. You cannot legally seceded from the Union, no matter who you are or what the circumstances are.

We fought a war over this, remember?
posted by Pastabagel at 6:50 AM on December 20, 2007 [2 favorites]


Boy, I really want there to be more to this story than there is. I'd love to be a fly on the wall at whatever federal organizations (State? Bureau of Indian Affairs?) are waking up to this story this morning and trying to grok it and imagine a US response.

The range of possible outcomes of this is all over the map - I kind of doubt ICBMs will ever figure into the story, but I certainly think some kind of violence is a possibility, given the amount of territory potentially at issue ("some 200000 km2" - see the map here) and the history. Let's hope some reasonable group of people on both sides can come up with a better resolution -
posted by newdaddy at 6:53 AM on December 20, 2007


Waaay off tangent, but I just found that good ol' Singapore is the _19th smallest_ nation-state out there. That blew my mind off.
posted by the cydonian at 6:53 AM on December 20, 2007


So, wait, haven't AIM and other activist organizations essentially been trying to do this for years? They don't recognize the "Vichy Indians" of the tribal government, so I'm curious about what makes this different than, say, Wounded Knee.
posted by dreadpiratesully at 6:55 AM on December 20, 2007


Why would people who lived for thousands of years in an area without nautical trade give a shit as to whether they were landlocked? Are we playing Risk?

I think this could be totally rad, and would be a wonderful experiment that we could learn from. It's also telling that they would allow non-indians(non-natives?) who live on their lands to remain. I could see quite an influx of American ex-pats if they founded a Lakota nation based on the principles of their ancestors. Self sufficiency and simplicity are actually quite appealing to a lot of folks.
posted by butterstick at 6:56 AM on December 20, 2007 [4 favorites]


I'm worried this could end with a lot of wounded knees.
posted by pax digita at 6:59 AM on December 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


Good luck with that whole "no taxes" thing.

Undriveable roads will provide an incentive to do away with cars, and they've already got guns galore so who needs police?
posted by CynicalKnight at 6:59 AM on December 20, 2007


Didn't the Ottowa try this in Canada several years ago (or maybe it was in Quebec)? With guns? I can't find the article right now (I'm at work), but I seem to remember the event ending with bloodshed and futility.
posted by Pecinpah at 7:01 AM on December 20, 2007


They plan to start their own country, issuing passports and drivers' licenses and living tax-free.

I strongly suggest they talk to the southern states in the US before attempting this.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:03 AM on December 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


Is this North Lakota or South Lakota?
posted by Mister_A at 7:03 AM on December 20, 2007 [2 favorites]


/glib
posted by Mister_A at 7:03 AM on December 20, 2007


Ok, so this obviously not last once the feds get in there with their guns n' shit. The Lakota probably know this. So the question is, what do they really hope to gain by doing this? I'd imagine they want some sort of concession from the US, but the question is what form that will take.
posted by Afroblanco at 7:05 AM on December 20, 2007


Why would people who lived for thousands of years in an area without nautical trade give a shit as to whether they were landlocked? Are we playing Risk?

Because any goods they'd want to obtain from the outside world would have to first pass through the territory of a now-hostile entity. You can't say "but they can go back to a traditional lifestyle", either - their people have seen the convenience and comfort that Western goods afford. I'm sorry but this seemed kind of obvious so I didn't bother to expand on it.


I kind of doubt ICBMs will ever figure into the story

To clarify: I wasn't suggesting anyone would ever be using nuclear weapons, just that claiming land bordering on major concentrations of ICBM launch sites is a great way to trigger a very rapid military crackdown on your political stunt.
posted by Ryvar at 7:06 AM on December 20, 2007


Do they have universal health care?

Um, no. Far from it.
posted by Tehanu at 7:06 AM on December 20, 2007


Dude, they don't need ports. CASINO MONEY. Let the fat white (wo)man fund their nation building a nickel at a time.
posted by Jeremy at 7:07 AM on December 20, 2007


Afroblanco, maybe they want their own State within the Union? That might give them more autonomy, if it was gerrymandered such that the Lakota were the majority of the population within it.
posted by chunking express at 7:10 AM on December 20, 2007


I'll say this too - this is one of those things that might have sounded trivial to political leaders a month ago, but its something that is well within the bounds of what the federal government ought to be keeping tabs on (even, nay, especially, under very conservative definitions of what the federal government's rightful purposes are). They ought to have been working actively for a long time beforehand to avoid arriving at a brinksmanship situation like this. Not to be provocative, but it kind of parallels other circumstances that the administration thought it safe to ignore until it blew up in their faces.

I'm not a lawyer, but I wouldn't want to put money either way on Pastabagel's assertion. Sure, you and I can't secede, but Indians are not solely citizens of the USA. And the point of secession is that you're not interested in playing ball anymore, you're taking your ball and going home. They may not care whether it's legal according to US law - but they seem to have found at least enough of a legal toehold on this issue to make assertions about it "We are alerting the Family of Nations we have now reassumed our freedom and independence with the backing of Natural, International, and United States law."
posted by newdaddy at 7:11 AM on December 20, 2007


Maybe you're right Ryvar, but seems to me like maintaining "the convenience and comfort that Western goods afford" would kinda miss the point of breaking away from the US.

But then again I kinda have this romantic Shadowrun style notion of how this could all work out.
posted by butterstick at 7:14 AM on December 20, 2007


And with all that money they could hire Blackwater to secure their borders and accompany their convoys across hostile territories. It's perfectly legal to hire a private army and deploy them as a protection force serving a peace keeping role - YAMIRITE!?
posted by Jeremy at 7:15 AM on December 20, 2007 [2 favorites]


Pecinpah: Didn't the Ottowa try this in Canada several years ago (or maybe it was in Quebec)? With guns?

Perhaps you're thinking of the Oka crisis of 1990 (involving the Mohawk first nation).
posted by hangashore at 7:15 AM on December 20, 2007


To clarify: I wasn't suggesting anyone would ever be using nuclear weapons, just that claiming land bordering on major concentrations of ICBM launch sites is a great way to trigger a very rapid military crackdown on your political stunt.
posted by Ryvar at 10:06 AM on December 20


First of all, they're talking about a 5-state region. I guarantee you that not only does the region include ICBM silos, it probably includes NORAD headquarters at Cheyenne Mountain and dozens of other military bases. It also includes countless private residences and property. Imagine waking up and learning that your house is now in land claimed as part of someone else's country.

If this had even one-billionth percent chance of being real, the U.S. government would be the least of their worries. How do they plan to deal with the ranchers, farmers, state militias, and general gun owners who live in those states who may not want to live in a Lakota nation?

They wouldn't be seizing the land from the government, they'd have to seize it from the people who are currently living on it.
posted by Pastabagel at 7:16 AM on December 20, 2007 [3 favorites]


"...start arresting Lakota for non-payment of taxes..."

Curious - do American Indians (directly) pay Federal, State and other taxes? I would have suspected they were exonerated, simply because businesses on reservations aren't subject to some laws (e.g., both gambling and the sale of untaxed tobacco occurr).
posted by Mutant at 7:18 AM on December 20, 2007


How would any allies they could possibly secure - even if the US didn't completely and utterly dominate all the world's oceans - provide them material aid?

Lakota airlift?
posted by drezdn at 7:19 AM on December 20, 2007


Free Leonard Peltier!

(with purchase of second Leonard Peltier of equal or greater value)
posted by ZenMasterThis at 7:19 AM on December 20, 2007 [11 favorites]


I'm not a lawyer, but I wouldn't want to put money either way on Pastabagel's assertion.

The US government has bigger guns and lots of them. US lands aren't being turned into another country without a fight and we all know how that's going to go.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:20 AM on December 20, 2007


This won't go anywhere. Ce la vie.
posted by Atreides at 7:23 AM on December 20, 2007


chunking express: "Those Indians know....

Indians are from India. Fuck.
"

I can assure you that my Cherokee grandfather is Indian, calls himself Indian, and thinks of himself as Indian. Fuck.
posted by aerotive at 7:28 AM on December 20, 2007 [6 favorites]


Imagine waking up and learning that your house is now in land claimed as part of someone else's country.

They wouldn't be seizing the land from the government, they'd have to seize it from the people who are currently living on it.


forthelulz
posted by prostyle at 7:32 AM on December 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


Just to clarify on my side, I'm not saying that the entire area the Lakota once claimed is what they are now asserting as their territory. I don't know the extent of the border they are drawing, and it's not specified on their website. More than 50% of Lakota live outside of reservations (I can't find the link to that anymore, but had it earlier today.)
posted by newdaddy at 7:33 AM on December 20, 2007


Pastabagel, a reservation is not part of the union. We did not fight a war over this.

Perhaps they don't have the necessary resources to establish their own independent country in South Dakota. But they sure as hell need to completely sever all ties with the U.S. government. It has done absolutely nothing other than drag their entire community through the dirt.
I was in Pine Ridge, South Dakota last summer to help build some bunk beds. The people there are usually living 8 to 10 per trailer, so bunkbeds seem to help quite a bit.

I've lived in some of the most depressed areas of Mexico and Peru, but I've never seen anything like the poverty I saw in Pine Ridge. It's absolutely insane. Right there in the middle of the U.S.

The broken promises are quite well documented so I won't bother rehashing the whole issue here, but I think independence is exactly what they need.

(They also need elected leaders with tenures greater than one year and they need to offer businesses leases that don't need to be renewed every year - these two things would be possible if they left the concept of "reservation" behind and moved forward with independence.)
posted by Baby_Balrog at 7:33 AM on December 20, 2007 [3 favorites]


Brandon Blatcher - this isn't about guns. The land isn't the U.S. government's to begin with.
There's some dispute, quite a few white farmers own land that's technically within the reservation - this is more a matter of self-governance.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 7:35 AM on December 20, 2007


It won't happen. No way, no how. I don't know what they intend to accomplish, but if they genuinely think the result will be an independent Lakota nation, they're nuts. It is absolutely impossible that the US government would accept that, and the US government outguns them by such a huge factor it isn't even funny. If they really hold out for independence the best case is they're arrested, the worst case is they're killed, its physically impossible for them to actually hold off the US military, even after the way Bush has gutted it.

And, while there is a certain poetic justice involved in their actions, and the facts are certainly on their side in their "the USA broke the treaties so they no longer apply" argument, I've also got to say that I wouldn't live in their proposed nation if you paid me. Did you notice that the proposed government would be "informally chosen by community elders"? Yeah, that sounds like a workable system, and could never devolve into a nasty powergrubbing oligarchy...

There's also the "no taxes" bit, combined with the fact that even if they do manage to sieze the entire area of the former Lakota nation, it isn't what you'd call economically viable. Every state in the area they claim takes in more Federal tax dollars than they pay, which doesn't argue well for economic success.

Which leaves the question: what do they really want? The answer *can't* be what they claim to want, I simply can't believe they'd be stupid or crazy enough to think they could actually pull it off, so what do they *really* want?
posted by sotonohito at 7:36 AM on December 20, 2007


In a dream world of negotiated compromise couldn't they end up with a deal like Bhutan has with India - practical independence but allowing the giant neighbour to set the military/regional relationships policy?
posted by Abiezer at 7:39 AM on December 20, 2007


As Baby_Balrog describes, reservations are some of the most depressing places on earth. Healthcare is not even third world quality in some cases; unemployment, alcoholism, and chronic illnesses like diabetes run rampant. These people are hurting. Still, there's no way the US government is going to allow any group to break off a piece of land and declare sovereignty.
posted by Mister_A at 7:42 AM on December 20, 2007


They're not talking about huge chunks of land. There are large reservations located throughout "western parts of North and South Dakota and Nebraska and eastern parts of Wyoming and Montana." Because they're reservations, they cannot form any kind of cohesive government or set policy on their own. They need to be made independent so that they can direct their own government and begin to rebuild their economies.

I seriously doubt the U.S. government will even take notice of this - they sure as shit haven't noticed the Lakota since the Wounded Knee massacre - and didn't until the Lakota started questioning the fact the the U.S. government's handling of the reservations was rife with corruption. This will be good - hopefully, it will also reduce the individual Lakota's dependence on their monthly government check and encourage them to care for their land once again.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 7:45 AM on December 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


1) Remeber AIM did the Pine Ridge standoff in the early 70s.

2) Misha (and orthogonality and kittens_for_breakfast): Russell was part of that standoff, and thus has more renown than just "Libertarian Candidate" or "Movie Actor".

3) I wonder what Ward Churchill has to say.

4) Mister_A, according to the article, the Rosebud reservation isn't taking part. They don't mention other rez's. I'm guessing that, if this is part of the tribal leadership as a whole and not just an AIM stunt, that Pine Ridge Reservation is the main focus. In that case, it would be the WEST Lakota. ;)

I think they're ready for guns. They've done it before. Also, Oka isn't the only standoff. In March, there was a standoff in Quebec, as well as this standoff in Caledonia. Mostly Water has more excellent coverage/articles on that standoff (it's over, AFAIK, but they were on top of things when it was all going down). I highly recommend that site for First Nations issues.
posted by symbioid at 7:48 AM on December 20, 2007 [2 favorites]


Also, speaking of Federal Gov't fucking over the Native Americans. Don't forget the BIA complete mismanagement of federal funds for tribes!
posted by symbioid at 7:49 AM on December 20, 2007


Here is a good NY Times piece from 1998 on Indian independence, this is not new.

And no, the Lakota can't do this, any more than any other American citizens can, they are members of a "dependent nation" which exists only in Federal Law, not outside it.

From the Supreme Court Lone Wolf v. Hitchcock, 1903: "The power exists to abrogate the provisions of an Indian treaty, though presumably such power will be exercised only when circumstances arise which will not only justify the government in disregarding the stipulations of the treaty, but may demand, in the interest of the country and the Indians themselves, that it should do so. When, therefore, treaties were entered into between the United States and a tribe of Indians it was never doubted that the power to abrogate existed in Congress, and that in a contingency such power may be availed of from considerations of governmental policy, particularly if consistent with perfect good faith towards the Indians."
posted by blahblahblah at 7:51 AM on December 20, 2007


Big standoff in Ontario along Lake Huron several years ago, too--went on for a couple of years. These things can certainly turn violent if poorly managed.

Indians say "Indian" all the time--in areas here in Michigan with a lot of them, you see "You're in Indian Country!" bumper stickers, which I think is pretty sharp. What I don't know is whether it's one of those things you can say if you're in-group but not if you're an outsider.
posted by texorama at 7:53 AM on December 20, 2007


They've been watching too much Bjork.

The question keeps getting asked: "What do they want?" To be honest, I don't think they know, but this is a statement akin to: "This Shit Ain't Working". If this current state of the Rez is the best that the Feds can do, they have nothing to lose by striking out on their own. They are looking for change and they're prepared to light a few fires to get some.

Declare independence - don't let them do that to you.
posted by unixrat at 7:53 AM on December 20, 2007 [2 favorites]


1) Remeber AIM did the Pine Ridge standoff in the early 70s.

This is the sort of thing I think very few people know about. I only learned about the Pine Ridge Standoff because one of my coworkers at an old job used to bring tribal newspapers in to work and I would read them.

Technically, aren't reservations already considered sovereign, except they aren't in practice?
posted by drezdn at 7:53 AM on December 20, 2007


Indians say "Indian" all the time

Seems so backwards. You would think they'd distance themselves from the term, since it makes no sense whatsoever -- plus it's a label given to them by the people who have spent the past couple hundred years oppressing them.
posted by chunking express at 7:59 AM on December 20, 2007


drezdn Technically, aren't reservations already considered sovereign, except they aren't in practice?

They have some powers of states, but they are subordinate to the Federal government, which can modify those powers, apparently the official status is "dependent nation". Major crimes are prosecuted by the Federal government, but the tribes also have their own court systems and can be immune from certain kinds of suits. Wikipedia, for what its worth.
posted by blahblahblah at 7:59 AM on December 20, 2007


Their country is bordered by Cascadia
posted by hortense at 7:59 AM on December 20, 2007


drezdn - the Supreme Court decision that blahblahblah cites above addresses this question directly, but it's a nonsense decision - "In conformity with the then prevalent restrictive view of Indian tribal sovereignty, White held that Congress had plenary power over Indian property “by reason of its exercise of guardianship over their interests."
The issue at hand is that the Federal government hasn't acted as guardians of the Lakota's interests. It's a complete sham. And any lawyer worth his shit should be able to build a case for this. The U.S. has violated their treaties with the Lakota time and time again. Independence is a very viable and I think necessary action on the part of the Lakota.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 7:59 AM on December 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


chunking express: Russell Means wrote on article on why he calls himself (American) Indian and NOT Native American, here. I don't know if I agree with his logic (essentially, Indian is derived from In Dio -- With God. I have a feeling that etymology is a bit weak). That said, that is his justification for it.

Native American is really a white mans PC term. And really, I think whatever they want to call themselves is fine. In fact, I'd prefer they keep their tribal names and stop being lumped in altogether with each other. But I suppose we tend to lump together (especially when it comes to overall results) Black, White, Asian, etc...

I really like the term "First Nations" but that's apparently used only in Canada. :(
posted by symbioid at 8:03 AM on December 20, 2007


** ghost dances wildly
posted by isopraxis at 8:04 AM on December 20, 2007 [1 favorite]




Here's the original statement of intent, from 1997. At that point, they were basing their case on "the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty", which closed the Lakota Territory to white settlement. And then there was a gold rush, the government broke the treaty, and beat the Lakota down in the Black Hills War (which included the battle of Little Bighorn, with Custer and all that).

Apparently our current guys regard every treaty signed after that one as coerced and therefore invalid, which... I don't think international law works that way.

(Incidentally, the Lakota successfully sued for the seized land (and won $122.5 million) back in 1980.)
posted by ormondsacker at 8:07 AM on December 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


Personally, I think it would be awesome to find out that the whole idea behind this was to create sovereign data havens where the MPAA and RIAA would have no legal jurisdiction.

I mean, I would totally pay money to co-loc my servers on Lokota-net.
posted by quin at 8:08 AM on December 20, 2007


Lakota-net. ugh, I need my morning caffeine apparently.
posted by quin at 8:09 AM on December 20, 2007


Imagine waking up and learning that your house is now in land claimed as part of someone else's country.

Better yet, first imagine your grandparents claiming someone else's land, putting your house on it, and going to sleep like it's no big deal.
posted by cashman at 8:15 AM on December 20, 2007 [29 favorites]


Ok, I misread the press release, and I thought they wanted all five states back, so that was my misunderstanding. Apparently, what they are talking about is this.

And Indian reservations have an odd legal status. The tribes have some limited power of self-government, i.e. limited sovereignty but reservation land is held in trust for the tribes by the U.S. government. So they don't really control the land, even if they can govern their people. This is basically a bureaucratic recipe for disaster, and the results that Baby Balrog describes are to be expected, given the legal crack they've fallen through.

Personally, I think it would be awesome to find out that the whole idea behind this was to create sovereign data havens where the MPAA and RIAA would have no legal jurisdiction.

The Blackfeet Tribe runs an international offshore bank. They have offices around the world.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:21 AM on December 20, 2007


I like how the tribes get the nsn.us domain. I believe NSN stands for "native sovereign nation."
posted by grouse at 8:25 AM on December 20, 2007


Indians say "Indian" all the time

In Washington, we have the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian on the Mall, where on every single tour, the guide get this question.

Usually they explain that anybody born in America is, by definition, a native American. The group referenced by the term "American Indian" is a collection of peoples who did not consider themselves to be a single entity until Europeans, calling all these folks generically 'indians,' did some very nasty shit to them.

So, they could make up a new word to describe their woebegone compatriots, or just use the historically entrenched term.

On preview, Russell Mean's etymology is, uh, suspect.

And also, reclaiming a term for your "group" (be it cultural, genetic, perceived, whatever) is fairly common. Look at the queer community for instance; use of the word queer to self-identify was a very intentional and politically-minded adoption of what had until reclamation been a very derogatory term.
posted by CaptApollo at 8:27 AM on December 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


Patabagel - the website for that bank links to a legal opinion (pdf) summarising the sovereignty of the tribe. Key quote: "Congress and the U.S. Supreme Court have long recognised that Indian tribes possess inherent sovereignty that antedates the existence of the United States..."
posted by patricio at 8:28 AM on December 20, 2007


Pastabagel, a reservation is not part of the union. We did not fight a war over this.

Perhaps they don't have the necessary resources to establish their own independent country in South Dakota. But they sure as hell need to completely sever all ties with the U.S. government. It has done absolutely nothing other than drag their entire community through the dirt.
I was in Pine Ridge, South Dakota last summer to help build some bunk beds. The people there are usually living 8 to 10 per trailer, so bunkbeds seem to help quite a bit.

I've lived in some of the most depressed areas of Mexico and Peru, but I've never seen anything like the poverty I saw in Pine Ridge. It's absolutely insane. Right there in the middle of the U.S.

posted by Baby_Balrog at 10:33 AM on December 20 [+] [!]


Ditto. I was there about 10 years ago--I've never seen such poverty and all-around rundown conditions. Incredible unemployment rates, rotten buildings, no future.
posted by etaoin at 8:29 AM on December 20, 2007


If they are no longer part of the USA, what laws now apply there, according to the Lakota? Is it a free for all until they've drafted their own constitution? Or did they already have one ready to apply?
posted by hoverboards don't work on water at 8:31 AM on December 20, 2007


Toward an Oglala Lakota Contitution
posted by ormondsacker at 8:38 AM on December 20, 2007


So the essential US Govt rule is Steal it and its yours forever?
posted by A189Nut at 8:41 AM on December 20, 2007


kittens for breakfast writes "I'm no history buff, but it seems to me that seceding from the US has a tendency to not work out all that well."

Well to be fair there is only one serious data point.
posted by Mitheral at 8:43 AM on December 20, 2007


My church supports a women's shelter in Pine Ridge. Two of our members have essentially adopted a family out there and they have shown us pictures and told us stories about the conditions there. I'll be interested to hear what they have to say about this new wrinkle.

I think it's admirable, but can't see how it will work.
posted by Biblio at 8:44 AM on December 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


Part of this isn't unprecedented. The Iroquois have used their own passports for a while.

Earliest reference I could find was for a trip in 1923. Here's a 2002 article mentioning their use by the Iroquois Nationals Lacrosse team.
posted by pandaharma at 8:49 AM on December 20, 2007


The Museum:Wounded Knee (flash) stoke the fires.
posted by hortense at 8:49 AM on December 20, 2007


Patabagel - the website for that bank links to a legal opinion (pdf) summarising the sovereignty of the tribe. Key quote: "Congress and the U.S. Supreme Court have long recognised that Indian tribes possess inherent sovereignty that antedates the existence of the United States..."
posted by patricio at 11:28 AM on December 20


That sovereignty does not extend to printing currency, raising an army, making war, etc. Their sovereignty in many ways falls short of that of a state. And again, the tribe is not the same as the reservation, the actual land under their feet. They do not have complete control. More to the point, as the opinion you mentioned indicates, that sovereignty is subject to review by U.S. Courts. Like any other supreme court decision, the court can change its mind, and the law, later. The extent of that sovereign authority came up in court again as recently as the early 80's when tribes successfully fought for the right to operate casinos and gambling establishments. But even that authority is subject to regulation by Congress in the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.

Tribes cannot traffic illegal drugs as a business (they can use certain drugs as part of religious practices). They cannot violate US copyright laws. They cannot engage in criminal enterprises. They are not a sovereign nation like Canada or Lichtenstein. This may be part of the problem, of course, but eliminating the sovereignty entirely may also be part of the solution. If counties neighboring reservations aren't nearly as poor as the reservations themselves, then it appears there is a cost to isolating themselves from the U.S.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:50 AM on December 20, 2007


So the essential US Govt rule is Steal it and its yours forever?
Agreed, and Poland needs to give back Upper Silesia right godamn now.

Here's a more detailed article about the state of the Lakota Sioux government and constitution. In particular, it modifies what I said earlier about the court decision.
The Supreme Court in United States v. Sioux Nation, affirmed the Court of Claims decision and authorized a monetary settlement of more that eighty five million dollars. Now, over twenty years later, the Sioux Nation has still not accepted the monetary award. The Sioux Nation does not want a monetary settlement; it wants the United States to return the Black Hills to the tribe.

Although the Oglala sought to enlist international support from European governments and international humanitarian groups in an effort to pressure the United States to return the Black Hills, or at least the federal portion of the Black Hills, this international assistance has not resulted in the return of the Black Hills.
posted by ormondsacker at 8:51 AM on December 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


So all this talk about guns and trades and economies, has anyone actually been through an Indian reservation? I drove through one once, it was the most depressing place in the world. It was seriously third world conditions in there. Drive through liquor stores, desperate poverty, no one actually doing much of anything. The worst part was the complete lack of hope. It was as if I was driving through a weird tableau, where everyone in it knew nothing was going to change.
posted by geoff. at 9:09 AM on December 20, 2007


10:00 AM, Wednesday: Lakota secede from U.S., fully expecting news crews on Thursday and armed U.S. Military forces beating down their doors by Friday.

9:00 AM, Sunday: Some temp in the White House finally lets the current administration in on the joke, and George, Condi, and Dick have a great old laugh about it, ignoring the situation entirely.

11:45 PM, Monday: Administration realizes that all armed U.S. forces are overseas, and there is no way to put down a quiet revolution. Lakota seize western United States.
posted by mr_book at 9:13 AM on December 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


Well... I for one would like to quietly challenge the system. Walk up to Lakota land w/ your passport in hand and ask for a week visa to come in as a tourist. And then, on the way out, demand that you get a return visa from US customs.

Then the Lakota can shout "precedent! precedent!" all they like. And they'd be right!

maybe thats a pipe dream way of formalizing their nationhood. But I like it.
posted by Sam.Burdick at 9:15 AM on December 20, 2007 [2 favorites]


President Bush clears it up:
Tribal sovereignty means that. It's sovereign. You're a…you're a…you've been given sovereignty and you're viewed as a sovereign entity. And therefore the relationship between the federal government and...tribes is one between...sovereign entities.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:15 AM on December 20, 2007 [6 favorites]


Most Indians I know want to be called by their first name.

I really and truly hope this works out for the Lakota.
posted by sleepy pete at 9:23 AM on December 20, 2007 [3 favorites]


So all this talk about guns and trades and economies, has anyone actually been through an Indian reservation? I drove through one once, it was the most depressing place in the world. It was seriously third world conditions in there. Drive through liquor stores, desperate poverty, no one actually doing much of anything. The worst part was the complete lack of hope. It was as if I was driving through a weird tableau, where everyone in it knew nothing was going to change.

I hate to spoil you story but Detroit is NOT an Indian Reservation.
posted by srboisvert at 9:26 AM on December 20, 2007 [12 favorites]


I'm guessing the "Great Father" in Washington is going to call their bluff and threaten to cut off their funding and this will all blow over fairly soon.
posted by Pollomacho at 9:30 AM on December 20, 2007


Free Tibet Dakota!
posted by homunculus at 9:41 AM on December 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


Hau Mitakuye Oyasin!
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 9:43 AM on December 20, 2007 [2 favorites]


The "sovereignty" enjoyed by Indian tribes isn't absolute; at best, it's a little better than what U.S. States get. But ultimately they're still under the authority of the Federal government, the U.S. Supreme Court, and the Constitution, in terms of what's the absolute law of the land.

And you don't need to look very far to see where that power originates: it's basically the old 'right of conquest,' hoary as that may seem today. The Lakota fought, and eventually lost (although only after a very long time and extreme tactics, i.e. the destruction of the buffalo, by the U.S. military) an outright war.

For that reason, I think it's unlikely that they'll be taken seriously; too much U.S. territory has been acquired this way. To cede anything to the Lakota would potentially empower other defeated groups who had their lands taken by force and annexed. It's a Pandora's Box that the U.S. government (like virtually all other Western nations) does not want to open up.

I think it's more likely that the Lakota will have another visit from the 7th Cavalry than be allowed to secede completely, to be quite blunt.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:46 AM on December 20, 2007


President Bush clears it up:

In much the same way a 'D' average High School student who hasn't prepared, clears up his mid term speech presentation. By repeating the title over and over in different way with different inflections until, in the privacy of his brain, he has adequately answered the questions.
posted by quin at 9:49 AM on December 20, 2007 [4 favorites]


I am sure total independence will not happen but, if it did the money they could make would be much needed. Crazy amounts of money in no time at all (legalize drugs, prostitution, and gambling) the tourism business could entirely change, to hell with Vegas I am going to Lakota nation.
posted by hexxed at 9:49 AM on December 20, 2007


That clip has always caused me such aggravation, that is manifests as physical pain between my ears whenever I watch it.
posted by quin at 9:50 AM on December 20, 2007


Agreed, and Poland needs to give back Upper Silesia right godamn now.

As soon as Ukraine gives back Lwow, Belarus gives back Minsk, and Lithuania gives back Wilno.
posted by Meatbomb at 9:52 AM on December 20, 2007


From my experience, most Indians tend to identify themselves by their tribes -- and there are some tribes that have enormous animosity toward each other. They are only "Indians" -- as in, a collective mass of undifferentiated indigenous peoples -- to outsiders, and so they use the word "Indians" to refer to themselves as part of that collective mass, and it's not how they would ordinarily self-identify.

My Mandan/Hidatsa ex-girlfriend called herself Indian. I used the word "indigenous" around her once, and she balked; I think she found it too clinical sounding.

I've heard some Indian youths refer to themselves as "skins," but that's a very insider-y thing.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:53 AM on December 20, 2007


Black Elk approves.
posted by milarepa at 9:58 AM on December 20, 2007


Careful. They have fireworks of mass destruction.
posted by Artw at 10:03 AM on December 20, 2007 [3 favorites]


Anyone know if the Eagle Butte Lakota in South Dakota are part of this? I spent a week this summer helping repair an Episcopal parsonage there and met some really nice people. If they could do a better job bringing in enterprise that suited their needs as an independent country than as a "reservation" under US laws, I could see some real advantages.
posted by lleachie at 10:19 AM on December 20, 2007


A few years ago the Pine Ridge and Rosebud reservations were very high on the list of the most poverty stricken regions in the U.S. One of them may have held the top spot. Crime is very bad as well. They're tough, dangerous places. And unfortunately, from what I've heard they are not among the Native communities that have maintained their traditions like the Hopi, or some of the Pueblo tribes. This would make a lot more sense if they were economically successful like the Navajo, although it would still be doomed. But I really don't understand what they think they are going to gain. This isn't going to bring economic opportunity. Drugs, prostitution and gambling are available now. Sovereignty doesn't mean law and order manifests out of thin air.

I've lived on a small square of white man's land surrounded by reservations - about a 30 minute drive to get to the other side of the reservations. The one I was closest to was fairly prosperous, relatively speaking. No opportunity at all on the res, and they were very dependent on federal money. A friend of mine volunteered to build a house on a reservation (Creek?), in the Northern plain states. Within a couple of weeks of finishing, the plumbing had been dug up and sold for scrap in order to buy alcohol. And this in an area where temperatures in the -20s were well within possibility for winter. They might be well served by reducing welfare aid, but I suspect that the immediate elimination of funds would be catastrophic.

Going back to the traditions of a wandering horse (brought by the Europeans) people is a pipe dream. The strongest representatives of the religious sensibility are dead. Frank Fools Crow, the last great Lakota medicine man, saw the culture was dying. There's no question they've gotten a bad deal but this isn't the best choice if they are concerned about future generations' quality of life. Assimilation is. There's other avenues for productive work than being part of a folk dance troupe. I'm all for independence and initiative, and this is still the wrong way to go. Focusing on business and not rejecting out of hand everything associated with the white man will bring a much greater return.
posted by BigSky at 10:19 AM on December 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


Some thoughts. It's a really difficult situation and there is not a simple solution. I think that only the Lakota (and other American Indians in similar situations) can help themselves. I think head-on conflict with the rest of the US is misguided.

Who owns the land: Conquest has, at least in the west, long been recognized as a legitimate way to bring about dominion over a realm. Look at how well that worked out in the long history of the Brittish Isles and France. For example, William of Orange. It's only recently that we've gotten all touchy-feely about it.

Who has more guns: It's not guns that are going to stop them. What will stop them is bureaucracy and indifference. The area they claims has people living there and local institutions in place. The non-Lakota aren't going to change their lifestyle--they'll ignore it just as the Federal government will ignore it. Local police may be called on to arrest some Lakota. There may even be a Waco-style stand-off. But what will eventually cause them to fail is simple a question of mindshare. If nobody believes that their country exists, then it doesn't. And a month from now, nobody will believe that, regardless of what we feel is just.

The condition of the Reservation and the lure of Western luxury: The ones I have seen were fairly tragic, and the ones in Washington are not the worst at all by what I hear. I don't know what the solution is. Perhaps they've been worried about land for so long they missed the point where capitol became more important than land. Do they really want to live as their ancestors did? I don't want to live as my ancestors did. Several people have mentioned this and I have to ask the question: is being a "soverign" (whatever that might mean) more important than raising your people out of poverty? Plenty of ethnic groups live and exist in this country in traditional manners (see the Hasidics of NY, and other enclaves of Indian (as in India), Japanese, etc) without having their own patch of land carved out of it. The reservation system is holding them back, I agree. The solution, to me, seems not to try to fix it but to leave it behind entirely. Education will serve the far better than land.

The long history of treaty violations, corruption in the BIA and general abuse by the Federal Government: Terrible but non-undoable. The Reservation system should be abolished. It may have been seen as a way of preserving their rights, but it has been perverted and only served to hold them back and keep them in poverty. We all know "seperate but equal" doesn't work. When it was abolished things blacks were finally able to stand among whites as equals. Of course there is still disparity and still work to be done, but things are better. It's time for the American Indians to take their rightful place in society which is along side everyone else. We're all here; nothing will change that. We all have to live together. History will show that integration is far more beneficial to everyone than segregation.

The loss of Tribal identity: It may be inevitable. If it is truly important to a group of people, nothing can destroy their identity and culture. If education and mixing with non-tribal people is all it takes, than maybe it wasn't so great to begin with. If it is the price of leaving poverty behind, perhaps it is worth it. People matter more than customs and religion.
posted by jeffamaphone at 10:25 AM on December 20, 2007 [2 favorites]


I have donated money to these folks. Good for them. And yeah, they don't care about about the whole "Indian" thing. They're laid back like that.
posted by wfc123 at 10:32 AM on December 20, 2007


The analogy to the Confederacy is off base. Native Americans already have various levels of sovereignty the Confederacy never had. The treaties that bind them to the US (and that grant them limited sovereignty, as if that is something the US government has to give away) have been violated repeatedly in large and small ways ever since by whites and the US and state governments, shrinking already minuscule reservations steadily over the course of the 20th century. (PS, above, the reservation system comes a long time after "wagon trains" were done for).

Legally, there is a case to be made here. Morally, there's an even better case. Go Lakota!
posted by fourcheesemac at 10:34 AM on December 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


I hope it works out for them. I give them my full support and best wishes.
posted by cazoo at 10:36 AM on December 20, 2007


Also, you can bet that lots of countries will recognize the Lakota Nation if they have a chance to do so just to stick a finger in Bush's ass, and America's arrogant do-as-we-say-not-as-we-do ass as well.

Here's someone who really doesn't know the word "sovereignty":

President Bush on tribal sovereignty. (Youtube link)
posted by fourcheesemac at 10:37 AM on December 20, 2007


"I hate to spoil you story but Detroit is NOT an Indian Reservation."

They got casinos!
posted by klangklangston at 10:47 AM on December 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


Here's someone who really doesn't know the word "sovereignty":

That was funny. "Tribal sovereignty means you're sovereign. You've been given sovereignty. It means you're a sovereign entity."

If you listen closely, I'm pretty sure that's the audience laughing in the background at what a dumb fuck he sounds like.
posted by jayder at 10:47 AM on December 20, 2007


That Bush clip is a classic. Comedy gold.
posted by disgruntled at 10:58 AM on December 20, 2007


There's no question they've gotten a bad deal but this isn't the best choice if they are concerned about future generations' quality of life. Assimilation is.

And that's how you kill off an entire people in two or three hundred years.
posted by chunking express at 11:18 AM on December 20, 2007 [3 favorites]


I think the Lakota are getting way ahead of the trend. But I suppose somebody had to go first.

Not that I think this a good or wise thing. In fact it's stupid as shit.

Asking for passports and shit from your main source of revenue... old white Americans... is not going to keep the Lakota coffers filled. In fact if they pursue this and succeed in succession...uh... heh... they will find them selves cut off from their revenue.

There will be nothing stopping the US side of the new Lakota border from hassling the shit out of returning US citizens maybe even demanding duty on the casino winnings. Making it so awful to go to these idiot casinos and water parks that the Lakota will have no revenue at all.

As Larry David says "Prit-tay... prit-tay... prit-tay... stupid."

Like I said. Somebody had to go first, though. I will bet any Mefite $10 that by 2025-2035 there will be several somewhat serious succession movements in the US.

And some, after about fifty years, will work. I'm thinking the coasts will succeed by 2120 at the latest. They will do this rather than be dragged into the third world mire of poverty and fanatical religious ignorance by Jesusland.
posted by tkchrist at 11:20 AM on December 20, 2007 [3 favorites]


Cooler heads at Wikipedia on this publicity stunt...

It is as yet unclear whether the statements of the activists represent the view of the elected government(s) of the Sioux Nation ...

So, if I just yell loud enough, does that mean I can declare Cascadia an independent nation, too?
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:21 AM on December 20, 2007


I will bet any Mefite $10 that by 2025-2035 there will be several somewhat serious succession movements in the US.

Define "somewhat serious" and I'll take that bet.

Somewhat serious ≠ a bunch of guys at a press conference.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:23 AM on December 20, 2007


Define "somewhat serious" and I'll take that bet.

I would say that means led or underwritten by major corporate and or wealthy interests.
posted by tkchrist at 11:28 AM on December 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


I imagine that if the US government was feeling spiteful, they could let this go through, and then promptly concentrate on building a small fence around their new nation.

The United States did conquer their land, and the treaty seems more like a favor to them than anything else. They have exemptions from certain laws, taxes, and prohibitions that other US citizens do not benefit from, and government stipends. That reservations are depressing places is no one's fault but those who live there. They're not legally bound to the land, they can leave at any time, or improve it to be a shining example.

Canada's practice of referring to "First Nations" perpetuates a myth of the "Noble Savage", that American Indians were largely peaceful people. In reality, they practiced war as often as on any other continent, and it is unlikely that they were the First Nations, but rather the victorious nations of prior wars.

It seems altogether unfair that people who were rightly defeated in war, but never enslaved, get preferential treatment by their government, but those who were forceably brought to this continent as slaves do not.
posted by explosion at 11:40 AM on December 20, 2007


Yes. Go, Lakota. Get your land back from the white men who stole it from you. Then you can give it back to the Arikara, Mandan, Hidatsa, and Cheyenne that you stole it from. Then the Cheyenne can give their share back to the Kiowa, Crow, and Pawnee that they stole it from.

As anyone who has lived on or near any Lakota rez knows, there is always inter-tribal conflict as one faction or other vies for power, almost always to the detriment of the tribe itself. This is just a publicity stunt designed to leverage power for the benefit of Means and whatever tribal faction he's aligned himself with this month.
posted by joaquim at 11:43 AM on December 20, 2007 [3 favorites]


Native American is really a white mans PC term. And really, I think whatever they want to call themselves is fine. In fact, I'd prefer they keep their tribal names and stop being lumped in altogether with each other. But I suppose we tend to lump together (especially when it comes to overall results) Black, White, Asian, etc...

Not a perfect solution. Many of the common tribal names are adopted from settlers or nearby tribes -- as James Wilson put it, it's akin to aliens landing in Britain and asking who lived on the other side of the Channel and henceforth calling those people "The Bloody Frogs."

They are only "Indians" -- as in, a collective mass of undifferentiated indigenous peoples -- to outsiders, and so they use the word "Indians" to refer to themselves as part of that collective mass, and it's not how they would ordinarily self-identify.

There is also an argument, especially among some older tribe members, that since the treaties and case law were putatively transacted with "Indians," the abandonment of the term could be part of a covert termination policy -- by no longer using the word, the treaties no longer apply. This is actually a very realistic concern given the history of U.S. policy in this area.

And again, the tribe is not the same as the reservation, the actual land under their feet...

Pastabagel, I like you and all, but you are wrong, wrong, wrong. Native American law makes this at best a dicey question, but the precedent and history here are ample and you have no idea what you are talking about. The tribes are generally considered dependent sovereigns or "wards" of the U.S. based solely on their original treaties -- which is why blood quanta issues differ for various tribes in establishing membership -- and it is by no means a foregone conclusion that they cannot reclaim their sovereignty.

In fact, the tribal nations actually have an even stronger and older claim to sovereignty than many of the territories like Puerto Rico, which have come close to seceding many times. The fact that they are all governed by federal law (note: not state law) is by dint of the fact that they are wards of the federal government, as sovereign nations, much like the state (who do, in fact, have some degree of sovereignty). You bring up the drug example while ignoring the obvious -- the reason tribal casinos exist in states that don't allow casinos is that the tribes are independent authorities that can formulate their own gambling laws.

Again, the relationship between the federal government and the native tribes is explicitly between sovereign nations, governed by technically international treaties which create a "ward" status for the tribal nations, and yes, those treaties can be abrogated. The case law here is ample. Lone Wolf is by no means the final word on that score, as it doesn't resolve the issue of who the land belongs so. In this case the controlling precedent is still probably Johnson v. M'intosh, where Marshall was noticeably reluctant about acknowledging a conquest-based taking of the tribal lands.

Regardless of how this shakes out, the legal grounds should not be lightly dismissed, particularly if you're not, you know, remotely familiar with them.
posted by spiderwire at 12:03 PM on December 20, 2007 [2 favorites]


The United States did conquer their land, and the treaty seems more like a favor to them than anything else.

On the contrary, in most cases the treaties were negotiated freely by both sides, and I assure you that many of the tribes were never "conquered"by force.

They have exemptions from certain laws, taxes, and prohibitions that other US citizens do not benefit from, and government stipends.

They are not "exempt" from anything. They are simply not directly subject to state authority, like most U.S. citizens. They also don't receive state stipends, which is a misnomer anyway -- many nations receive U.S. aid, but you don't hear people calling money going to Israel or Africa a "stipend" most of the time.

Canada's practice of referring to "First Nations" perpetuates a myth of the "Noble Savage", that American Indians were largely peaceful people.

Horseshit. "First Nations" means exactly that -- they were nations, and they were here first. The U.S. government recognizes this as well. You don't know what "noble savage" means.

In reality, they practiced war as often as on any other continent, and it is unlikely that they were the First Nations, but rather the victorious nations of prior wars.

That is a historically ignorant statement. Most of North America was too sparsely populated to support wide-scale wars. Occasional tribal conflicts, perhaps. Try further South. Most of the Native America tribes were essentially original settlers.

It seems altogether unfair that people who were rightly defeated in war,

"Rightly defeated in war" -- inaccurate, ignorant, and morally vapid. Well done.

but never enslaved,

Right -- so the government never exercised legal control over them, so instead it should be imagined up in retrospect. Makes sense.

get preferential treatment by their government,

Ever been to a reservation? Heard of the Cherokee Indians? Trail of Tears? Klamath Indians? Termination policy? Ring a bell?

but those who were forceably (sic) brought to this continent as slaves do not.

Not a germane comparison, but even if it were, "we haven't helped former slaves enough, so we shouldn't help Native Americans" is not exactly persuasive logic. The central point you don't seem to understand is that the tribes had territory here which was acknowledged by the U.S. government by legitimate treaties which have never been repudiated. Your comparison is nonsense.
posted by spiderwire at 12:13 PM on December 20, 2007 [11 favorites]


I used the word "indigenous" around her once, and she balked; I think she found it too clinical sounding.

Yeah, kinda like I might balk if you called me an "indigenous European." The phrase tacitly raises the question, "indigenous compared to what?"
posted by spiderwire at 12:19 PM on December 20, 2007


What they want and what they hope to gain are two different things. I don't know what they really want, but it seems clear that their hope is to become an issue in the presidential campaigns, and get people talking and making promises.
posted by JWright at 12:28 PM on December 20, 2007


Who owns the land: Conquest has, at least in the west, long been recognized as a legitimate way to bring about dominion over a realm. Look at how well that worked out in the long history of the Brittish Isles and France. For example, William of Orange. It's only recently that we've gotten all touchy-feely about it.

Not true from a number of angles. Again, the key opinion here is Johnson v. M'intosh, which waaay back in 1823 specifically repudiated the conquest rationale and linked that repudiation to the immorality of European conquests. This is not in any respect a "recent" development, as even a cursory reading the opinion makes clear -- Marshall reveals in no uncertain terms that the entire deal was highly suspect.

Johnson establishes very solidly that the tribes have an alienable right to their land that can only be ceded to the U.S. as a co-sovereign nation. Therefore, if the tribes either did not cede their land (as in some treaties) or the U.S. violated those treaties (as in essentially every case), then there is a solid argument that under basic Constitutional and international-law principles, they have a right to reclaim that land under their sovereign authority.
posted by spiderwire at 12:32 PM on December 20, 2007


I agree that Indian tribes wanting sovereignty from the U.S. is a lot different from the South seceding in the Civil War or wacko white supremacists wanting to secede. Really, it should be their right. Good for the Lakota. I'm sure it will be difficult but I hope they find a way to succeed.

I guess I don't know a lot about things like this but I don't really see any glaring reason why we couldn't let a friendly secession take place, trade with them, visit, etc.
posted by Jess the Mess at 12:48 PM on December 20, 2007




I don't really see any glaring reason why we couldn't let a friendly secession take place, trade with them, visit, etc.

I'll plagiarize and re-phrase one of my own posts ...

Rah-rah secessionists and "it won't be a catastrophe" observers often miss the trees for the forest. Secession creates a brand-new sovereign nation, with all the rights that it entails.

Two minutes of brainstorming raises all sorts of sticky situations ... the new nation would be able to ...

* Print money
* Raise an army
* Enter into treaties and trade agreements
* Dump toxic waste
* Change its intellectual property laws
* Start new social services that attract people to the new nation
* Dismantle old social services that drives refugees to the old nation
* Close its borders
* Open its borders
* Go nuclear

All of which have serious implications for its neighbors.

And oh yeah ... the old nation can do all of the above, and in direct opposition to the newly formed nation!

Imagine the Lakota secede ... and the United States favors a different, third country in a trade deal that costs the Lakota billions in Lakotan dollars. Now what do the Lakota do?

Secession wouldn't necessarily be a catastrophe, in that militants wouldn't take to the streets (or would they?). But the economic and personal shocks would be enormous and potentially catastrophic in their own special ways, some of which we can't begin to imagine.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:09 PM on December 20, 2007


Of course it's bloody theatre. And, what else can they do?

Suppose you are committed to maintaining the memory of your ancestors, and the days when you had your tradition, your language, your sovereignty and your pride. Armed resistance is futile. Astute use of political theatre is effective.

Eg, look at this thread and the length of it. For a brief while, more people are thinking about the Lakota, and some of them will be sympathetic, and maybe the activists can build on that notice to get more resources to achieve something concrete.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:18 PM on December 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


Cool Papa Bell all that is true but it pre-supposes that the conditions of US hegemonic status remain constant where they are now. Which they will not.

If current trends in demographics and economics hold there will come a day (and relatively soon historically speaking) where it WILL make perfect sense for the republic to split up. Like I said, literally, the center can not hold.

Who ever is on the bleeding edge of that split will of course receive the brunt of some bad business to be sure. And it may not work out all that well. But it is likely to happen eventually if things continue in this perfect storm of a death spiral for the US.

In the 2100's I see the North east coast split off and form with a kind EU affiliation. I see the West Coast split off and go with some sort of Pacific Rim Federation. And I see the midwest and most of the Southbleed out thier brain trust to the coasts then trend to be some Taliban-ish version of the US and then die a slow agonizing death.

That is if current trends continue.
posted by tkchrist at 1:19 PM on December 20, 2007


We fought a war over this, remember?

yes, pastabagel, we did

that was before the 6 o'clock news, before roadside and suicide bombs and 5th generation warfare, before the internet and cell-phone video, and before the idea that war casualties are something that is repugnant enough to the people that they would threaten to vote out any government that caused them here at home

it's simple enough - no one's seceded from the u s because no region has felt strongly enough about it to do so

if a region ever does, it will be a success because the american people don't have the stomach to see a bitter, bloody war fought on their own soil - the first time children are casualties, you will hear a massive uproar demanding an end to the suppression of the revolt

the lakota don't have much chance of success because of lack of numbers - the government will probably ignore it and pick off the most blatant violators of various laws, one by one

this doesn't make them crazy or stupid - it just makes them desperate - they've actually been pushed to the wall so hard they think this is their last chance

--------------

I think it's more likely that the Lakota will have another visit from the 7th Cavalry than be allowed to secede completely, to be quite blunt.

as i recall, the 7th cavalry had one hell of a lot of trouble with them before they won

and interestingly enough, the lakota STILL don't seem to think the black hills war is really over
posted by pyramid termite at 1:20 PM on December 20, 2007


Rah-rah secessionists and "it won't be a catastrophe" observers often miss the trees for the forest. Secession creates a brand-new sovereign nation, with all the rights that it entails.

You're missing the point -- they already are a sovereign nation; the catastrophe is that the U.S. has never had a coherent policy toward the tribal governments that's lasted more than ten years, let alone made even a token effort to help out the supposed "wards."

Print money - Anyone can print money, you just can't counterfeit it. Who gives a shit if it's worthless?
Raise an army
Enter into treaties and trade agreements
Dump toxic waste
Change its intellectual property laws - So?
Start new social services that attract people to the new nation - With all that money they print
Dismantle old social services that drives refugees to the old nation - Yeah, all those social services that are so well-funded now
Close its borders
Open its borders

Go nuclear - With their vast scientific and technical resources

All of which have serious implications for its neighbors.

And oh yeah ... the old nation can do all of the above, and in direct opposition to the newly formed nation!

Just like we're planning to invade Haiti next summer

Imagine the Lakota secede ... and the United States favors a different, third country in a trade deal that costs the Lakota billions in Lakotan dollars. Now what do the Lakota do?

Exactly what they're doing now, except now they don't even have the authority to negotiate a trade deal in the first place

Secession wouldn't necessarily be a catastrophe, in that militants wouldn't take to the streets (or would they?).

Yes with their vast army

But the economic and personal shocks would be enormous and potentially catastrophic in their own special ways, some of which we can't begin to imagine.

Sorta like... U.S. tribal policy for the last two centuries
posted by spiderwire at 1:25 PM on December 20, 2007


And I see the midwest and most of the Southbleed out thier brain trust to the coasts then trend to be some Taliban-ish version of the US and then die a slow agonizing death.

from what? lack of food? water? canceled subscriptions to the new yorker? no more season tickets to the opera houses? a sushi shortage?
posted by pyramid termite at 1:27 PM on December 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


and interestingly enough, the lakota STILL don't seem to think the black hills war is really over

Yeah, what a bunch of sore losers. They should just take the $3/4 billion in blood money that's been offered them and is still on the table, but instead they have the gall to stand on principle. But it's not like they need the money or anything.
posted by spiderwire at 1:28 PM on December 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


from what? lack of food? water? canceled subscriptions to the new yorker? no more season tickets to the opera houses? a sushi shortage?

Stupidity.
posted by tkchrist at 1:29 PM on December 20, 2007


from what? lack of food? water? canceled subscriptions to the new yorker? no more season tickets to the opera houses? a sushi shortage?

critical lack of strawmen
posted by spiderwire at 1:30 PM on December 20, 2007


critical lack of strawmen

Same thing.
posted by tkchrist at 1:32 PM on December 20, 2007


And I see the midwest and most of the Southbleed out thier brain trust to the coasts then trend to be some Taliban-ish version of the US and then die a slow agonizing death.

tk this is the dumbest thing I've ever seen you write on Metafilter.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 1:39 PM on December 20, 2007


tk this is the dumbest thing I've ever seen you write on Metafilter.

That is a statistical impossibility.
posted by tkchrist at 1:40 PM on December 20, 2007 [2 favorites]


In the 2100's I see the North east coast split off and form with a kind EU affiliation. I see the West Coast split off and go with some sort of Pacific Rim Federation. And I see the midwest and most of the Southbleed out thier brain trust to the coasts then trend to be some Taliban-ish version of the US and then die a slow agonizing death.

Funny, I see: the Midwest threatening the Northeast with starvation, and California with drought; the South cutting off the Mississippi; Texas hoarding all the oil, power, cheap Mexican labor, and imposing massive tariffs on cross-country transport and internet; and the Northwest sitting on their cheap hydroelectric plants and hydro-other-types-of-plants and their potato crops and giggling, oh and they could totally go for some Ruffles right now man, because they've kinda got the munchies.
posted by spiderwire at 1:45 PM on December 20, 2007 [4 favorites]


And oh yeah ... the old nation can do all of the above, and in direct opposition to the newly formed nation!

Imagine the Lakota secede ... and the United States favors a different, third country in a trade deal that costs the Lakota billions in Lakotan dollars. Now what do the Lakota do?


The same as the Canadians would do in the same scenario, or the Mexicans.

Or maybe they will do a wardance and take a few scalps, is that what you are worried about? People seem to be talking about a sovereign nation occupying territory alongside the US as if its a nigtmare scenario cooked up in the mind of a lunatic as opposed to business as usual for every nation on the planet.

Including the US.

If your government could manage to not be dicks about it and resist the urge to go rushing in with guns and tanks, maybe it will work. Or maybe it won't. Whichever the case may be it couldn't get much worse than life on some reservations right now.

Seems like "the land of the free" would be a perfect place to give it at try.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 1:48 PM on December 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


To connect that previous comment to this thread -- one of the real reasons why Indian nations don't get sovereignty is dependence, amazing as it sounds. For a while, but especially since Reagan, we've been utterly dependent on plundering their water resources to prevent California and the rest of the Southwest from dying of thirst.
posted by spiderwire at 1:48 PM on December 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


I see: the Midwest threatening the Northeast with starvation, and California with drought; the South cutting off the Mississippi...

You're operating with flawed data. It is an indisputable fact that the engines of commerce and the centers of wealth in this country are on the coasts.

Who else is the Midwest gonna sell to? The third world? China? Europe? How they gonna ship that with only one port in New Orleans? What the midwest and south may or may not do will not matter. The only thing they do NOW that matters now is the demographic effect they have on the electorate. Electing guys like Bush. And why cutting them away in 100 years may happen. Maybe spurred by the midwest itself if it continues to trend to religious extremism. They may want to cut those secular homosexual loving coasters out.

It's a fact that the mid west is bleeding most of it's educated elites to the coasts for thirty years. And this trend will continue. Some retirees are moving back for cheaper housing and standards of living in the Midwest. But it's not all that significant.

Besides. The mid west will not ALL WAYS be the breadbasket. Not if current trends in drought, soil depletion, and water conservation continue.

And Oil? From Texas? What Oil. It's a tiny fraction of our oil. Teaxs contribution to US energy will be insignificant in 50 years.

Guys. You seem to be taking this too literally and far too personally. Let's not be provincial. Not only that I speaking of possible events 75-100 years out. It's like science fiction.

And I guess you expect me to get defensive as if it was my theory. But it's not. So I really don't care. Most of us will long dead before any of this may or may not happen. We will never know.
posted by tkchrist at 2:03 PM on December 20, 2007


Here's a brief overview of the Winters Doctrine and the reserved-resource rights for tribes — it was actually improving until 1981.

Pyramid Lake. Wind River.

Some interesting House testimony regarding the Ute tribe and the Animas-La Plata Federal Reclamation Project. Pay attention to who's testifying and what they say and you can see what this is really all about.
posted by spiderwire at 2:17 PM on December 20, 2007


the South cutting off the Mississippi

It flows North to South, so they can't really cut it off.
posted by jeffamaphone at 2:18 PM on December 20, 2007


Does this mean we have to invade them now?
posted by zorro astor


Hey, I'm in favor of bringing our National Guard home!
posted by NationalKato at 2:21 PM on December 20, 2007


Awesome! I want to live there, if they'll allow immigration.
posted by mike3k at 2:21 PM on December 20, 2007


I was mostly kidding too, but it's also true that while much of the U.S. interior doesn't appreciate that they're essentially being subsidized by the coastal states as far as federal appropriations, the coastal states also don't recognize that they're dependent on the interior for food (in the Northeast), water (in the Southwest), transport, etc. etc.

Also, just to defend my Texas bias, oil demand is so inelastic right now that even Texas' relatively small contribution is indispensable, to say nothing of the Gulf reserves. But no, this state of affairs won't last forever. On the other hand, at least there's West Texas for the wind generators. But there's a reason we have our own power grid and the rest of the nation has two, goldurnit!
posted by spiderwire at 2:24 PM on December 20, 2007


Anyone can print money, you just can't counterfeit it. Who gives a shit if it's worthless?

Or maybe they will do a wardance and take a few scalps, is that what you are worried about?

spiderwire and Reggie Knoble both go on the List of the Willfully Obtuse in the Name in of Proving a Point.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:26 PM on December 20, 2007


Good on the Lakota, but whether this matters a damn or not will be decided by its airing in public. How such stories get aired has changed. This discussion is part of that. If support for their claim becomes manifest through simple unregulated chit-chat and the interwebs, this could influence events, and make this incident more interesting than precedent might suggest. Unless this strikes a spontaneous chord loudly, it's going down though.
posted by fcummins at 2:29 PM on December 20, 2007


It flows North to South, so they can't really cut it off.

For transport, not water. Who the hell would drink from the Mississippi?

Who else is the Midwest gonna sell to? The third world? China? Europe? How they gonna ship that with only one port in New Orleans?

... Dude, first of all, you need to buy a map.

Second, the question isn't really who the breadbasket farmers would sell to, but where the coastal states would buy from and how they'd ship it.
posted by spiderwire at 2:32 PM on December 20, 2007


Awesome! I want to live there, if they'll allow immigration.

How are your dealing skills?
posted by tkchrist at 2:32 PM on December 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


spiderwire and Reggie Knoble both go on the List of the Willfully Obtuse in the Name in of Proving a Point.

Either you were originally trying to be sarcastic and did a bad job, or you were making dumb arguments and deserved to be mocked. If you don't feel like having a serious discussion, there's lots of threads out there — no one's forcing you to act like a twit in this one.
posted by spiderwire at 2:34 PM on December 20, 2007


Second, the question isn't really who the breadbasket farmers would sell to, but where the coastal states would buy from and how they'd ship it.

You are aware that we on the coasts get a HUG amount of our produce from our own ports via Mexico, etc. And the Northwest and California also supply huge amounts of food and we in the northwest could easily supply California with water. Water from the Colorado (which isn't really Midwest, dude) etc it getting very expensive and isn't gonna last forever either.

I'll ignore the map comment becuase you knew exactly what I meant. Again. The midwest, if trends continue (and it look like they will) will get more more irrelevant to the survival of the coasts. You know this is true so I'm not sure why your getting so vociferous about it. Like I said you will be dead before it's a big worry.
posted by tkchrist at 2:38 PM on December 20, 2007


spiderwire and Reggie Knoble both go on the List of the Willfully Obtuse in the Name in of Proving a Point.

Thanks

Imagine the Lakota secede ... and the United States favors a different, third country in a trade deal that costs the Lakota billions in Lakotan dollars. Now what do the Lakota do?

Would you care to explain why people should find your above hypothetical so scary? In a part of my comment you chose not to selectively quote i suggested that they might do the same as your current neighbours.

Do you disagree?

If not then whats the problem? America has survived for a couple of centuries with countries right next door a shitload bigger than any Lakota nation would be.

If you do disagree then what do you think they would do that is so bad? What do you think they could possibly do?
posted by Reggie Knoble at 2:42 PM on December 20, 2007


You are aware that we on the coasts get a HUG

Everyone needs a hug.
posted by homunculus at 2:43 PM on December 20, 2007


What do you think they could possibly do?

Host a Celine Dion female impersonation casino night with Celine Dion as the headliner.
posted by tkchrist at 2:44 PM on December 20, 2007


Obligatory fatuous (or is it) link
posted by fcummins at 2:46 PM on December 20, 2007


Everyone needs a hug.

Mmmmmmmmm. That feels good.

Mmmm... um. Wha? Uh... homunculus. I hope that's a roll of certs in your pocket.
posted by tkchrist at 2:46 PM on December 20, 2007


A half used roll of certs.

ZING!
posted by tkchrist at 2:46 PM on December 20, 2007


tkchrist - your casino jokes are not funny. The Lakota do not make money from casinos, and the fact that you keep joking about it proves your ignorance on the matter.
In fact, Prairie Wind casino (the only casino that ended up being built on Lakota land) was a huge swindle. Who the hell wants to drive out to the middle of South Dakota to gamble? The only people who utilized it were the Lakota themselves, only adding gambling to the long list of miseries taking its toll on the rez population.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 2:55 PM on December 20, 2007 [3 favorites]


Who the hell would drink from the Mississippi?

Lots of cities and towns along the Mississippi depend on it for drinking water. Why do you think they make Budweiser out of?

I recall from my youth that most barge traffic seemed to go from North to South, since its cheaper. Though I guess the barges have to go back North at some point. Owell.
posted by jeffamaphone at 2:56 PM on December 20, 2007


How they gonna ship that with only one port in New Orleans?
Five ports on the Gulf Coast handle 1/6 of US trade cargo. In 2004, 3 of the top 5 and 7 of the top 10 ports in terms of tonnage were on the Gulf Coast.

And Oil? From Texas? What Oil. It's a tiny fraction of our oil. Teaxs contribution to US energy will be insignificant in 50 years.
The 12 largest US oil fields have about 40 billion barrels in reserve. Texas oil fields account for more than 25% of those reserves. If you add the reserves in the Gulf of Mexico, that fraction goes above 1/3. The largest oil shale reserves in the world are in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming.

In addition, the US refining capacity in 2004 was about 17 millions barrels a day. The Gulf Coast accounts for 8.1 million barrels of that with Texas alone accounting for over half of the Gulf Coast capacity.

The mid west will not ALL WAYS be the breadbasket. Not if current trends in drought, soil depletion, and water conservation continue.
Most of the reports I've seen about the reduction of food-producing capacity in the Midwest are about US capability to feed the world. The US manages to produce enough food not only to have record exports, but also to provide each person in the US with about 150% of the needed daily calories. If the Midwest was suddenly called upon to produce enough food for only the Midwest and not the urban megalopises of the East and West Coasts, do you think it would be hard-pressed?
posted by joaquim at 3:00 PM on December 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


American balkanization lolz.



But seriously, America will not be breaking up anytime soon. Look for further economic integration with Canada and Mexico at some point in the future.
posted by Atreides at 3:01 PM on December 20, 2007


In fact, Prairie Wind casino (the only casino that ended up being built on Lakota land) was a huge swindle. Who the hell wants to drive out to the middle of South Dakota to gamble? The only people who utilized it were the Lakota themselves, only adding gambling to the long list of miseries taking its toll on the rez population.

They also act as a magnet for organized crime and tend to drain resources from the community (no one sticks around or makes lasting investments) and relegate the locals to menial service jobs. Not to mention that casinos have torn apart many tribes, esp. in the NE, in fights over genealogy and blood quanta issues.

Lots of cities and towns along the Mississippi depend on it for drinking water. Why do you think they make Budweiser out of?

I'm not sure if that's an argument for or against.
posted by spiderwire at 3:05 PM on December 20, 2007


Lots of cities and towns along the Mississippi depend on it for drinking water. Why do you think they make Budweiser out of?

I'm not sure if that's an argument for or against.


Against. DEFINITELY against.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:33 PM on December 20, 2007


The Lakota do not make money from casinos, and the fact that you keep joking about it proves your ignorance on the matter.

You are right. I did not know that. I suppose it was low hanging fruit. Sorry.
posted by tkchrist at 3:42 PM on December 20, 2007


If the Midwest was suddenly called upon to produce enough food for only the Midwest and not the urban megalopises of the East and West Coasts, do you think it would be hard-pressed?

FYI, California is the largest agricultural state in the nation; we grow about 30% of the food for the US. Of course, we will have issues if we lose Colorado river water, but I think if we sell Los Angeles to Mexico we won't need the Colorado; we'll just continue to ship water from the Sacramento for San Joaquin Valley agriculture.
posted by oneirodynia at 3:46 PM on December 20, 2007


joaquim that does not refute Texas contribution to growing US energy needs in fifty years.

The US 20 million barrels PER DAY now. 25% is only 10 Billion barrels of reserve? That is nothing.
posted by tkchrist at 3:49 PM on December 20, 2007


Oh and Alaska has 24%, California has 21%.
posted by tkchrist at 3:50 PM on December 20, 2007


Should read. The "USES" US 20 million barrels PER DAY now. Sorry.
posted by tkchrist at 3:52 PM on December 20, 2007


Grrr. The US uses.
posted by tkchrist at 3:52 PM on December 20, 2007


But seriously, America will not be breaking up anytime soon.

Is 75 to 100 years soon? I think it is. And it's possible. Very possible if we keep having 50/50 electoral splits like we have been.
posted by tkchrist at 3:54 PM on December 20, 2007


FYI, California is the largest agricultural state in the nation; we grow about 30% of the food for the US. Of course, we will have issues if we lose Colorado river water, but I think if we sell Los Angeles to Mexico we won't need the Colorado; we'll just continue to ship water from the Sacramento for San Joaquin Valley agriculture.

California wouldn't just have "issues" if it even took a slight dent in its water supply; y'all are running on empty as it is. That's why the government keeps going out of its way to muscle water reserves from Indian reservations to get it to California. Putting aside how much is direct runoff from the Sierras, consider how much is just offsets by upstream water further northeast that displaces supply that can then be diverted to California.
posted by spiderwire at 3:57 PM on December 20, 2007


joaquim that does not refute Texas contribution to growing US energy needs in fifty years.

The US 20 million barrels PER DAY now. 25% is only 10 Billion barrels of reserve? (sic, somewhere) That is nothing.


You don't understand the issue. It's about peak oil and creating a cushion for a resource with an inelastic demand curve that we're already using at capacity. Texas and Gulf oil doesn't have to be imported, and like Alaska oil, those few points are so highly leveraged that the pure percentages don't indicate their actual value or the impact of their loss.

Putting aside my false bravado about Texas -- if the problem were only as simple as you're framing it, we wouldn't be having many of the problems we are right now.
posted by spiderwire at 4:01 PM on December 20, 2007


You also missed the point about refining capacity. Texas is where the U.S.' oil supply gets turned into actual useful product rather than crude.
posted by spiderwire at 4:03 PM on December 20, 2007




Uh... homunculus. I hope that's a roll of certs in your pocket.

Get your hand out of my pocket, perv. I have a fish, and it bites.
posted by homunculus at 4:19 PM on December 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


If the Midwest was suddenly called upon to produce enough food for only the Midwest and not the urban megalopises of the East and West Coasts, do you think it would be hard-pressed?

You think they would really do this. As thought experiment.

After a break up you think the Midwest would cut off supply to the closest most profitable major markets (especially since they wouldn't be getting subsidized BY those markets tax revenues) out of what? Spite?

Midwest farmers balk at any kind of federally mandated moral embargo and trade restrictions NOW.
With all this anti-Iranian talk they don't support trade restrictions with our current demon. You think they would cut off other white people that speak the same language?

Trust me. No matter what super powers you think are laying dormant in the Mid West the wealth in the US will stay geographically where it is now. And that is the on the coasts.

I'm not saying a break up is to deliberately KILL the Midwest. Which many of seem to think I am implying.

What I'm saying is there are economic and cultural forces that seem in many ways to be leading us there - to a possible break up of the republic. Possibly. And you Midwesterners are fooling your selves if you think any of that is good. Or these trends are not happening.

And if this really IS the charachter of the midwest, a suicidal trade restriction to the coasts, then they would devolve into some kind of third world agrarian serf state for sure.

The populations are shrinking there. States like Utah have more growth than Kansas. And even then the biggest population growth is with migrant, Mexican and Latino populations. And the Midwest is the CENTER for anti-immigrant sentiments in this country. How long do you think the labor base would stay there after a split?

Again. As a thought experiment. If the US split up all the wealth would FURTHER concentrate on the coasts. That is the single fact that matters. And due to that the midwest would sink into third world status quick. Texas oil or not. Hell there is Oil in Iraq and Algeria. Oil does not imply any kind of civil progress.

I think some of you are just reacting to this as some kind of provincial defense mechanism. Which is silly. This is wild speculation for fun.

This isn't some sort of current value judgment on EVERY SINGLE individual in the Midwest now. Dang. It's like some sort of cognitive dissonance has taken over in here. Look at the trends people. What is happening in the center of the US does not look good. It's just a fact and you all know it. I'm not saying anything is definitive will BE by a long shot . But the trends are there. The rest is simple tom foolery and spit balling for fun.
posted by tkchrist at 4:19 PM on December 20, 2007


California wouldn't just have "issues" if it even took a slight dent in its water supply; y'all are running on empty as it is.

The northwest can supply all the water CA needs.

Putting aside my false bravado about Texas -- if the problem were only as simple as you're framing it, we wouldn't be having many of the problems we are right now.

Simple? What you want to write a treatise? I'm not smart enough. Nor do I have the patience. It's not my theory.

And Peak is precisely the reason Texas, and US domestic oil producers, will eventually have decreasing power. These producers have ZERO allegiance to Texas or the US or anywhere else for that matter as it is. They ally them selves with profit. And the coasts present bigger better markets. It is THAT simple.

You seriously think the center of this country could survive as a modern productive state without the populations, engines of commerce, and wealth coasts, your kidding your self for some weird nationalistic reason I don't understand.

I suppose we will never know, right?
posted by tkchrist at 4:26 PM on December 20, 2007


You also missed the point about refining capacity. Texas is where the U.S.' oil supply gets turned into actual useful product rather than crude.

We can build all the refineries we need. We have them now. The technology is not unique to Texan genes.
posted by tkchrist at 4:28 PM on December 20, 2007


What? One more fly-over state?
posted by Tube at 4:38 PM on December 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


Who else is the Midwest gonna sell to? The third world? China? Europe? How they gonna ship that with only one port in New Orleans?

we have ports in chicago, detroit, milwaukee, and cleveland for starters

Let's not be provincial.

you're the one who's being provincial - and bone thick ignorant
posted by pyramid termite at 4:49 PM on December 20, 2007


you're the one who's being provincial - and bone thick ignorant

Hey. Easy bub. That is not necessary.
posted by tkchrist at 4:56 PM on December 20, 2007


After a break up you think the Midwest would cut off supply to the closest most profitable major markets (especially since they wouldn't be getting subsidized BY those markets tax revenues) out of what? Spite?

The farm subsidies exist for two reasons:

1. As a collective-action measure that prevents over-production. The federal government isn't needed for that. A regional collective could do it, too.

2. Stop and think for just 2 seconds. The reason the country gets bent over backwards to subsidize the breadbasket is precisely because it's so cheap to grow food there. Do you think they get that money just for fun? It's a sop to those companies, because everyone else knows that if they're not paid off, they could just undercut all the other domestic producers and then raise prices after securing a monopoly, since you can't just start and stop farms at will.

3. Consequently, the farm workers in the rest of the country are also held hostage to the bread basket.

And you Midwesterners are fooling your selves if you think any of that is good. Or these trends are not happening.

If you're referring to me, I'm an Oregonian, I live in Austin, and my family's from Indiana. So I'm way more familiar with all of this than I'd like to be, thanks.

And if this really IS the charachter of the midwest, a suicidal trade restriction to the coasts, then they would devolve into some kind of third world agrarian serf state for sure.

You need a map, too. The Mississippi and Mexico are only accessible through the Midwest and Texas. There is no cross-country transport without going through the Midwest or Texas. The Midwest can actually reach Asia, South America, and Europe a lot easier than the East or West coasts can reach to the other side of the country.

The populations are shrinking there. States like Utah have more growth than Kansas. And even then the biggest population growth is with migrant, Mexican and Latino populations. And the Midwest is the CENTER for anti-immigrant sentiments in this country. How long do you think the labor base would stay there after a split?

Pfft. Anti-immigration sentiments stop at the moment where those people can buy cheap illegal labor, and they have fewer qualms about it. All you just said is that the coastal states would be staring at more bodies with no extra jobs -- in other words, reduced per-capita income. Congrats!

The northwest can supply all the water CA needs.

Bwaaaaaaahahahahaha

Dude, you're from Seattle. Do a trivial amount of research on just how bad California's water situation is, and then think about the mechanics of getting water to LA through the Cascades. I've spent a lot of time on those rivers. They ain't that big.

And Peak is precisely the reason Texas, and US domestic oil producers, will eventually have decreasing power. These producers have ZERO allegiance to Texas or the US or anywhere else for that matter as it is. They ally them selves with profit. And the coasts present bigger better markets. It is THAT simple.

Kinda like how everyone left OPEC for greener pastures back in the 70s, huh?

Remember what happened to gas prices when the hurricanes took out the refineries in Houston and New Orleans? I'll remind you: it sucked. The refineries are how oil producers bone the rest of the company on petroleum-related costs.

You seriously think the center of this country could survive as a modern productive state without the populations, engines of commerce, and wealth coasts, your kidding your self for some weird nationalistic reason I don't understand.

Modern states still have to eat. They also need the interstates for shipping and the backbones for their Internet.

We can build all the refineries we need. We have them now.

We do. And they're all in Texas.

The technology is not unique to Texan genes.

It's not about the industry, it's about the landscape and the natural markets. You can't build an oil refinery overnight. There's only a handful in the country, cause they're really, really expensive.

And even if you could, you wouldn't. Why? Because you couldn't use them. You have to put them where they have flexible supply and cheap ports. The refineries are where they are because that's where the foreign oil gets shipped into the country in the first place. That means Texas, mostly, because it can get shipped there from the Mideast and Latin America. If you ship it anywhere else, it's just black gunk that's not good for anything.

What is happening in the center of the US does not look good. It's just a fact and you all know it. I'm not saying anything is definitive will BE by a long shot . But the trends are there. The rest is simple tom foolery and spit balling for fun.

And what I'm saying is that the elitist numbnuts who think that, just because California and New York pay more than their share of federal income taxes, the coasts are subsidizing the interior, don't understand that most of the raw materials in the country, the basic-necessity goods, and the transport, all depend on the interior, which is why the coasts are held over the barrel that they are.

What you don't seem to understand is that if you're right, then what you're talking about is what would have happened if the "King Cotton" theory had been true -- the backwater parts of the country would have the coasts by the balls if the federal government wasn't keeping them in line. Of course it doesn't look good. That's the point. You're underestimating the economic leverage of the scariest political segments of the country.

The bottom line is this: the interior of this country might be dependent on the coasts for some things that generate a lot of new-economy cash, but the coasts also depend on the interior for the necessities of life. They're interdependent. But if push comes to shove, an information economy doesn't really need to be on the coasts, and the most self-sufficient parts of the country right now are the Midwest and the Northwest.

You should recognize that even if your naïve conception of the Midwest and the South as some sort of theocratic, third-world nation is true, that doesn't mean they don't have the rest of the nation by the balls. And that should really terrify you. Seattle is all well and good, I guess, but I live in Austin, which is sort of like the Green Zone of Texas, and what you're talking about frankly scares the shit out of me.
posted by spiderwire at 5:05 PM on December 20, 2007 [2 favorites]


"... it probably includes NORAD headquarters at Cheyenne Mountain and dozens of other military bases. ..."
posted by Pastabagel at 10:16 AM on December 20

Cheyenne Mountain hasn't been NORAD "headquarters" in years, and since July, 2006, is only a "warm standby" site for remaining operations at nearby Peterson Air Force base.
posted by paulsc at 5:09 PM on December 20, 2007


It'll be a red state for sure...
posted by Tube at 5:37 PM on December 20, 2007


The website of the Lakota who are declaring sovereign nation status. Their press release. Supporting documents.

spiderwire is right. I will add as an example that the Cherokee Nation and the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation are sovereign. (I don't know about the United Keetoowah Band, and it looks complex-- anyone care to chime in?)

If you check out the Lakota Wikipedia entry, you'll note that they're split among various subgroups and are spread out across different reservations as well. So if you look through the US government's list of recognized tribal governments, they're represented by several, depending on the reservation. But they're not recognized as a single unit. Their land is still being illegally homesteaded, and their health and community services are generally crap. So they're acting as a group to declare sovereignty and take care of themselves and preserve their culture while they still can. I say good for them.
posted by Tehanu at 6:56 PM on December 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


This is completely silly. The Lakota's sovereignty does not extend to seceding, and any past violations of treaties between the US and the Lakota doesn't change that fact. The subordination of the Lakota sovereign to the U.S. Federal sovereign wasn't a matter of treaty to begin with.
posted by "Tex" Connor and the Wily Roundup Boys at 6:57 PM on December 20, 2007


@ spiderwire
Print money - Anyone can print money, you just can't counterfeit it. Who gives a shit if it's worthless?
@ spiderwire

This was a really really stupid comment. Two questions:

1. Where does the "worth" of the Dollar come from? By what is the dollar backed?
2. Do you know what the Liberty Dollar is?
posted by yoyo_nyc at 6:57 PM on December 20, 2007


the Constitution, which specifically forbids this
Where?
posted by Flunkie at 7:05 PM on December 20, 2007


1. Where does the "worth" of the Dollar come from? By what is the dollar backed?

The general credit and stability of the United States, utility for common asset valuation, and widespread use as a reserve currency, among other things. Just like pretty much every other currency on the planet.

2. Do you know what the Liberty Dollar is?

Yeah, it's a paper tiger for dim-witted libertarian wackos. Why?
posted by spiderwire at 7:27 PM on December 20, 2007


This is completely silly. The Lakota's sovereignty does not extend to seceding, and any past violations of treaties between the US and the Lakota doesn't change that fact. The subordination of the Lakota sovereign to the U.S. Federal sovereign wasn't a matter of treaty to begin with.

Oh please.


CJ Marshall, Cherokee Nation v. Georgia:
...the Cherokees as a state... have been uniformly treated as a state from the settlement of our country. The numerous treaties made with them by the United States recognize them as a people capable of maintaining the relations of peace and war, of being responsible in their political character for any violation of their engagements, or for any aggression committed on the citizens of the United States by any individual of their community. Laws have been enacted in the spirit of these treaties. The acts of our government plainly recognize the Cherokee nation as a state, and the courts are bound by those acts.

... they are considered as within the jurisdictional limits of the United States, subject to many of those restraints which are imposed upon our own citizens. They acknowledge themselves in their treaties to be under the protection of the United States; they admit that the United States shall have the sole and exclusive right of regulating the trade with them, and managing all their affairs as they think proper...
posted by spiderwire at 7:39 PM on December 20, 2007


You bring up the drug example while ignoring the obvious -- the reason tribal casinos exist in states that don't allow casinos is that the tribes are independent authorities that can formulate their own gambling laws.

spiderwire, we're saying the same thing here. I understand and sympathize with the plight of the tribes and it is a national shame that the situation is what it is. But to suggest that they can declare themselves sovereign nations independent of the US government is nonsense. It's like Texas thinking because it passes a state law every year to remain part of the US that it can leave the union whenever it wants by not passing that law. The federal government controls Texas land. It controls reservation land. While tribes are not subject to the state law of the state within whose boundaries the reservations are found, the members of the tribe are nonetheless subject to US federallaw. There is no federal law generally outlawing casinos, but there are federal laws outlawing drugs, and other activities. Those activities cannot be undertaken on reservations. Therefore the sovereignty of the tribe is subject to the control of the U.S. government.

Native American law makes this at best a dicey question, but the precedent and history here are ample and you have no idea what you are talking about. The tribes are generally considered dependent sovereigns or "wards" of the U.S. based solely on their original treaties -- which is why blood quanta issues differ for various tribes in establishing membership -- and it is by no means a foregone conclusion that they cannot reclaim their sovereignty.

Repeat after me - there is no international law. There are no international statues, no international enforcement agencies, other than the UN which enforces nothing unless the US military. The United Nations cannot make law. International law has norms, and to the extent that two sovereign nations in a dispute agree to appear before an international court and have their dispute resolved does not imply that they are obligated to do so, or that failure to do so would be illegal. It can't be illegal because there isn't any law that would make it so. Just because the UN passes some resolution, it does not have the force of US law, and the US government is free to ignore it. It isn't illegal to ignore it, because things can only be illegal is a law prohibits them, and there is no international body in existence with the power to make law.

Treaties are contracts between nations. Everyone needs to stop focusing on the treaty as some immutable legal authority. The highest legal authority in the United States including on the reservation is the Constitution. The treaties with the indians are not only subordinate to the Constitution, but to the federal enacting legislation that puts them into force.

On one score the tribal leaders have it exactly right. Their treaties with the U.S. aren't worth the paper they are printed on, just like the nuclear arms control treaties we signed with the Soviets and the human rights treaties we've signed. They are all worth nothing. The United States is actively considering creaking its arms control treaty with a country that has the ability to destroy all human life in North America. Do you really think the U.S. government cares about some dumb treaty? Do you think any nation does? Nations care about their own laws. The government is concerned about the human rights treaties to the extent that some subsection of the U.S. codes describe how you can and cannot treat enemy combatants. But it only cares because it's there in the Code. If the government doesn't act in accordance with , they are breaking U.S. law, and will have to go to court etc to defend themselves. The individuals who break the law can go to prison if they are convicted. But they wouldn't be convicted of violating the Geneva Convention they would be guilty of violating XX U.S.C. §YYY.

The only, repeat, only reason the United States abides by an international treaty is because the treaty becomes part of US law through enacting legislation. The moment that enacting legislation repealed, then the treaty is broken, and there is no international recourse. At present, those treaties have been condified into US laws and are regulated and enforced by the Bureau of Indian Affairs which holds reservation land in trust for the tribes. So as a legal fiction, the tribes own it, but the federal government manages it.

The fact is that when a dispute as to the extent of tribes sovereign authority arises, that dispute is settled in the Supreme Court of the United States. Not in a tribal court, and not before the UN. That mere fact indicates that their sovereignty is limited. Native American law is meaningless, because it is clear that the United States government is NOT subject to Native American law. At most the tribes are as soveriegn as a state. But the tribes have none of the powers enumerated in the Constitution as reserved by the federal government. They cannot print money. They cannot raise armies. They cannot regulate interstate commerce.

Spiderwire, you may be right that the precise limitations on sovereignty are still a matter of legal debate. If the question was whether Indian tribes can grow marijuana for export to the Netherlands, I would guess the government would have to fight the issue in court. The gov't would win eventually, but some legal ambiguities would have to be cleared up.

But I assure you, whenever the legal question of tribal sovereignty intersects with the legal question of legal secession, which has been settled quite clearly in the negative, the controlling issue will be secession, not indian sovereignty.

You cannot legally secede from the United States of America under any circumstances. That is the lesson of the civil war, of Ruby Ridge, of the Montana Freemen, of Wounded Knee. If you secede, you do so illegally, and you call upon yourself the full force of the federal government. This is because secession is a threat to the sovereignty of the United States, which the United States does not take lightly.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:01 PM on December 20, 2007



Oh please.

CJ Marshall, Cherokee Nation v. Georgia:


First of all, in that case, Marshall denied the Cherokee's their injunction against the state of Georgia, stating "If it be true that the Cherokee nation have rights, this is not the tribunal in which those rights are to be asserted. If it be true that wrongs have been inflicted, and that still greater are to be apprehended, this is not the tribunal which can redress the past or prevent the future."

He also notes " These considerations go far to support the opinion, that the framers of our constitution had not the Indian tribes in view, when they opened the courts of the union to controversies between a state or the citizens thereof, and foreign states.

...This was well understood by the statesmen who framed the constitution of the United States, and might furnish some reason for omitting to enumerate them among the parties who might sue in the courts of the union. Be this as it may, the peculiar relations between the United States and the Indians occupying our territory are such, that we should feel much difficulty in considering them as designated by the term foreign state, were there no other part of the constitution which might shed light on the meaning of these words. But we think that in construing them, considerable aid is furnished by that clause in the eighth section of the third article; which empowers congress to 'regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes.' "


Finally:

"The Indian territory is admitted to compose a part of the United States. In all our maps, geographical treatises, histories, and laws, it is so considered. In all our intercourse with foreign nations, in our commercial regulations, in any attempt at intercourse between Indians and foreign nations, they are considered as within the jurisdictional limits of the United States, subject to many of those restraints which are imposed upon our own citizens."

They are not a foreign nation. At most they have the power of a state, but in fact their sovereignty is far more limited than that.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:14 PM on December 20, 2007


joaquim that does not refute Texas contribution to growing US energy needs in fifty years.
Oh and Alaska has 24%, California has 21%.
Your first statement on the subject: "And Oil? From Texas? What Oil. It's a tiny fraction of our oil."

Do you understand what the phrase "tiny fraction" means? If Texas has over 25% of the reserves and you call that a tiny fraction, how do you describe the reserves in California and Alaska? Twice tiny? Under the posited scenarios (you know -- US split into multiple parts), do you understand that Texas will not have to supply the energy needs of ALL the present US in 50 years? Did you even catch the reference to 2 TRILLION barrels of shale oil in the Green River Basin? (Which is not part of the coasts, BTW.)

The details you provide to support your arguments aren't factually correct. (Refer to the "tiny fraction" and "only one port" in your early messages for examples.) What would lead anyone to believe your arguments themselves aren't similarly worthless?
posted by joaquim at 8:30 PM on December 20, 2007


spiderwire, we're saying the same thing here

No, we're really not.

It's like Texas thinking because it passes a state law every year to remain part of the US that it can leave the union whenever it wants by not passing that law.

No, it's really not. Again, from Cherokee Nation: "[the Cherokee are] clearly contradistinguished by a name appropriate to themselves, from foreign nations, as from the several states composing the union. They are designated by a distinct appellation..."

The federal government controls Texas land. It controls reservation land.

Wrong.
(a) Land title has nothing to do with sovereignty.
(b) The federal government does not "control" Texas land.
(c) The federal government holds Indian land in a trustee capacity, but the tribal governments retain title. Marshall again in Worcester v. Georgia: "From the commencement of our government, congress has passed acts [that] manifestly consider the several Indian nations as distinct political communities, having territorial boundaries, within which their authority is exclusive, and having a right to all the lands within those boundaries, which is not only acknowledged, but guarantied by the United States."

Treaties are contracts between nations. Everyone needs to stop focusing on the treaty as some immutable legal authority.

Wrong. Treaties are binding authority at the Constitutional level until revoked. That is not merely a principle of international law, but of United States Constitutional law. Under the Accardi doctrine, government action is self-binding until revoked. The Indian treaties have not been revoked.

The highest legal authority in the United States including on the reservation is the Constitution. The treaties with the indians are not only subordinate to the Constitution, but to the federal enacting legislation that puts them into force.

Wrong. Federal law applies to tribes as a result of their ward status and as the proper defining statute. Tribes have independent judicial authority in most cases.

The only, repeat, only reason the United States abides by an international treaty is because the treaty becomes part of US law through enacting legislation.

Wrong. Executive agreements have the effect of legislation or "US law." Treaties are constitutionally binding.

The moment that enacting legislation repealed, then the treaty is broken, and there is no international recourse.

Wrong. The tribal treaties have not been repealed, except arguably in the case of the Klamath Tribe, and that is not exactly positive authority recommending the proposition.

At present, those treaties have been condified (sic) into US laws and are regulated and enforced by the Bureau of Indian Affairs which holds reservation land in trust for the tribes.

Wrong. The BIA is an administrative agency charged with governing the U.S.' relationship with the tribes, but that fact does not establish ownership any more than the State Department gives the U.S. ownership over Denmark. A binding treaty cannot be superseded by statute.

So as a legal fiction, the tribes own it, but the federal government manages it.

Wrong. The tribes own their land, period. Full stop. The federal government cannot deprive them of it any more than it can take your house without due process or compensation. Again, see termination policy, e.g. Klamath Tribe. This is why tribal governments receive the proceeds from casino operations.

Native American law is meaningless, because it is clear that the United States government is NOT subject to Native American law.

Wrong.
(a) You don't know what "Native American law" means. It's a field of study, not a statutory body.
(b) This statement is meaningless. It indicates nothing about sovereignty.
(c) The assertion is incorrect. This is equivalent to claiming that state law is meaningless because it does not bind the federal government.

But the tribes have none of the powers enumerated in the Constitution as reserved by the federal government. They cannot print money. They cannot raise armies. They cannot regulate interstate commerce.

Wrong. First, none of this has been tested in court. Second, none of this has to do with sovereignty. That's why it's "interstate" commerce and not "international" commerce.

If the question was whether Indian tribes can grow marijuana for export to the Netherlands, I would guess the government would have to fight the issue in court. The gov't would win eventually, but some legal ambiguities would have to be cleared up.

Wrong. This would constitute a facial violation of federal law. There is no colorable judicial issue or legal ambiguity.

But I assure you, whenever the legal question of tribal sovereignty intersects with the legal question of legal secession, which has been settled quite clearly in the negative, the controlling issue will be secession, not indian sovereignty.

Wrong. The question has never been tested, let alone settled. I assure you that you do not know what you are talking about.
posted by spiderwire at 8:41 PM on December 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


Cherokee Nation found improper jurisdiction precisely because the Court held that the tribal authority was above the competence of the court to adjudicate, because of the sovereign nature of the tribal-federal relationship. Give. It. Up.
posted by spiderwire at 8:45 PM on December 20, 2007 [1 favorite]



Wrong. The question has never been tested, let alone settled. I assure you that you do not know what you are talking about.
posted by spiderwire at 11:41 PM on December 20


Please stop telling me how I'm "wrong" and that I don't know what I'm talking about. First, it is annoying, and second it turns out that I do. I wrote a lengthy response to your post, but I deleted it because I don't feel like having to refute each of your unsupported "wrongs" with 2000 words explaining why I'm not, with cites.

Let me explain it to you this way. There have been many serious attempts to secede from the United States one way or another. Most have resulted in bloodshed. None were successful. In each case, the actions of the Unites States were viewed as legal, and those of the secessionists were viewed as illegal. Please explain to me clearly why this case would be different.

Second, in the past the US has fought wars with indian tribes, and those wars were settled with a treaty. Those wars were fought when the balance of forces was roughly equal, with soldiers and warriors with knives and guns on horseback. To start your own country, you have to defend it. When the US rolls the first tank onto the reservation, or flies the first Attack helicopter overhead, please explain how the secession is going to proceed to a successful conclusion, step by step.
posted by Pastabagel at 10:30 PM on December 20, 2007


First, it is annoying, and second it turns out that I do. I wrote a lengthy response to your post, but I deleted it because I don't feel like having to refute each of your unsupported "wrongs" with 2000 words explaining why I'm not, with cites.

"Stop telling me I'm wrong. I'm right, but I'm not going to tell you why." Pardon my skepticism.

Please explain to me clearly why this case would be different.

The "cases" you're referring to (I assume you mean "events," not court cases) have, to the best of my knowledge, concerned either independent groups or States. Neither has Constitutional authority to secede from the federal government. The Indian nations have never tried to secede, so your basic comparison is incorrect.

Furthermore, there is ample authority establishing that the tribes are independent sovereigns — not only in Constitutional and judicial precedent, but in legislative treatment that, despite radical shifts over the centuries, has never fundamentally disputed the legitimacy of the founding treaties. Those Constitutionally binding treaties between co-sovereigns override legislative enactments; they are absolutely controlling.

Legally, the Indian tribes are "dependent" sovereigns who have entered into treaties with the U.S. federal government which create a ward or trustee relationship. If a tribe rescinds the relevant treaty, then the relationship ends; the treaty does not divest ownership of the land — it remains with the tribe. As a legal matter, this is not particularly in dispute.

To the extent that you seem to be arguing that the government would somehow interdict tribal secession, you are simply asserting a scenario that has nothing to do with the relevant law. Therefore, your use of the term "illegal" is wrong.


Second, in the past the US has fought wars with indian tribes, and those wars were settled with a treaty. Those wars were fought when the balance of forces was roughly equal, with soldiers and warriors with knives and guns on horseback. To start your own country, you have to defend it. When the US rolls the first tank onto the reservation, or flies the first Attack helicopter overhead, please explain how the secession is going to proceed to a successful conclusion, step by step.

If you'd like me to stop calling you wrong, please stop asserting things that are facially untrue. If the explanation is insufficient, please do the research yourself rather than complaining to me about not understanding the topic.

First, as I explained earlier, in many if not most cases the tribal nations were not subjugated by war, nor by the federal government; this should be obvious if you simply stop to consider the sheer number of nations you're talking about and the fact that Westward settlement in America was nothing close to organized, and certainly not by the federal government.

Second, even if that were the case, the federal government specifically repudiated any title claim based on conquest in Johnson v. M'intosh — again, explained above.

Third, even if that were not true, currently the federal government recognizes the validity of those treaties and the status of the tribes as sovereign. This is not conjecture. It is simple fact.

The fact that you start from a make-believe historical premise describing how the tribes were absorbed and governed makes it difficult to discuss this. Until you recognize that conquest was not the basis of title in this case and is in any event irrelevant, I'm afraid that this topic will not make sense to you. I apologize for the condescension, but I'm not unfamiliar with this topic, and you are so wildly off-base that there's not much that I can fairly assent to. If you'd pointed out that Russell Means is a jerk and lacks authority, I would likely agree with you, but I can't agree with things that aren't true.

(In other words, I hate to go all EB on you, but if what you want is an explanation, I'm trying to offer it, and that sometimes requires me to correct things. Your cited rejoinders are most welcome.)


The bottom line is this:
The crucial point is not that the tribes can claim some sort of Platonic Ideal of Sovereignty based on strength of arms or moral right, but that the federal government has bound itself at every step of the way, even in its founding document, to recognizing that sovereignty. Constitutional law is self-reinforcing. Delegations of political power are self-binding. Much like Nixon couldn't reverse his decision to appoint a special prosecutor after he'd delegated that authority, the U.S. government cannot arbitrarily ignore a sovereign agreement.

You are free to speculate that the federal government could abrogate the treaties and then proceed to (re)conquer the Indian tribes. That is a hypothetical prediction. It is not a description of the legal relationship between the governments.
posted by spiderwire at 11:26 PM on December 20, 2007 [2 favorites]


Pastabagel, this may be something of an afterthought, but just to make sure — you have not even begun to scratch the surface of the problem here. You clearly haven't even considered the first few steps of your own hypothetical — for example, the result of declaring war on nations composed entirely of people with dual U.S. citizenship.

Simply describing the sovereign relationship in relatively simple terms is difficult enough. Considering the legal aspects of what you call "secession" is a treatise-worthy topic.

What you're talking about is doing string theory with a slide rule.

It's a fascinating topic, but it's not productive for you to pursue it like this.
posted by spiderwire at 11:40 PM on December 20, 2007


Let me explain it to you this way. There have been many serious attempts to secede from the United States one way or another. Most have resulted in bloodshed. None were successful.

pastabagel, your argument basically boils down to lethal force and the political will to use it - so far, our country has had both, when it comes to internal revolts

if we ever experience something like that again, it will be significantly different - the methods of insurgency have changed and the will of the people to fight is much less

whatever the outcome, there will be someone to justify the "legality" and "constitutionality" of it - even if there's a different law and a constitution

i don't think the lakota have a strong enough hand to do this - other future rebels just might
posted by pyramid termite at 3:12 AM on December 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


Yeah, we tried that too.

It didn't work out so well.
posted by smoothvirus at 9:03 AM on December 21, 2007


in the past the US has fought wars with indian tribes, and those wars were settled with a treaty. Those wars were fought when the balance of forces was roughly equal, with soldiers and warriors with knives and guns on horseback. To start your own country, you have to defend it. When the US rolls the first tank onto the reservation, or flies the first Attack helicopter overhead, please explain how the secession is going to proceed to a successful conclusion, step by step.

Pastabagel - without implying that these are particularly similar cases, please recall those newsreel videos you saw of black men and women walking together, holding hands and singing songs, until a bunch of white men with badges start beating the shit out of them.

Direct action - including presenting a Power with a choice and publicizing what their choice is, using it as a metaphor for a broader situation - is powerful.

Perhaps, perhaps, the first tank rolls in, the first attack helicopter flies overhead, and then the people of the United States start asking themselves - what's going on here? The United States is asserting that these people are US citizens, so they are attacking them? Either that, or they're enforcing something contrary to the people's assertions of freedom?

What if this becomes widespread news?

What is "successful"? A solidarity movement supporting Lakota? the US not building an apartheid wall around the nation?

Who knows what will happen. I don't think it is cut and dry.

To those arguing... what may happen, and what it means, are far more interesting to me than what's legal.

Because we've all seen that what's "legal" doesn't always matter to the government.
posted by entropone at 9:57 AM on December 21, 2007


joaquim you didn't understand the original scenario. Which was the fantastical notion that the US would split in 75-100 years. Not with in fifty.

By then, if our energy consumption rate remains constant there won't BE those reserves in Texas (which is only 10 billion barrels) in fifty years,.

In 50 years it would be BEFORE the split in the scenario.

If we consume 20 million barrels a day NOW (and that rate is accelerating and will grow) we will use up most of the reserves by the time there is split in 75 to 100 years. Do you understand now what I was saying?

And like everywhere else with oil that oil will be sold to who ever can buy it. Though hopefully we will be slightly less dependent on fossil fuels in 100 years.

I am not including the shale or the Gulf (though I did not originally consider that, true) becuase first off that is not proven reserve numbers (in the past these types of estimates have ALWAYS been faulted over what they truly are - IE the Saudi AND Iraqi reserves proved to be only slightly more than half of what they claimed. I think the idea of productive shale is waaaay overstated and remains to be seen) and second in 100 years that shit might be up for grabs. The Gulf, I mean.
posted by tkchrist at 10:12 AM on December 21, 2007


I say let's resist this topic on this date every ten years and analyze the relevant metrics and see.
posted by tkchrist at 10:12 AM on December 21, 2007


"revisit" the topic. Or resist. Either.
posted by tkchrist at 10:14 AM on December 21, 2007


For an event that took place in Washington DC, I have to say I find it dissappointing that, here, more than a day later, there is no mention of it either in the Washington Post or the NY Times. What, did everyone start their Christmas vacation early?
posted by newdaddy at 3:53 PM on December 21, 2007


What, did everyone start their Christmas vacation early?

There are certain topics, and I'd say Indian issues fall squarely into the category, for which major media outlets are always on Christmas vacation.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:59 PM on December 21, 2007


yeah, but let them want to open a casino somewhere and when the neighbors and do gooders start protesting and suing, THAT'S all over the papers
posted by pyramid termite at 5:03 PM on December 21, 2007


Well, pt, then it's no longer an Indian issue. QED.

(In this specific case, it's probably because Russell Means is kind of a gasbag.)
posted by spiderwire at 5:55 PM on December 21, 2007


spiderwire, I'm late to this thread but I have to say I find the topic fascinating and I have really enjoyed hearing your point of view. I want to know more about how the treaty and reservation system works -- it didn't occur to me that Indian groups could 'withdraw' from a treaty and maintain possession of the land. This is quite a murky topic. Can you recommend any sources for further reading which are not too technical, for someone without a legal background?
posted by PercussivePaul at 10:17 PM on December 21, 2007


Indians are from India. Fuck.

spoken like someone who either doesn't live in Indian Country or doesn't know any real live Indians. those "Native Americans" (a word used primarily by academics and journalists) would tell you to fuck yer own self and get yer panties in a twist over something that matters.

as someone who lives on an international port just next door to Lakota Territory, i hope the Anishinaabe Nation joins them (there ought to be much solidarity since they're so intermingled by marriage and living-space) in a repairing of centuries-long competitive animus. i'd support them if a non-violent group of people took over my city and ran it by using elders. be a damn sight better than what we got.

funny how people can get all critical about corruption in the tribes but don't blink an eye when gabillions of dollars get funneled to Dick Cheney Inc. i guess that's just "normal."

symbolic or real--i'm on their side either way.
posted by RedEmma at 11:18 PM on December 21, 2007


Spiderwire, as someone born and raised in Washington State, this comment made my day. I bust up every time I read it. Thanks for that!

The Cascadia business is nonsense, but the American Northwest and Canadian Southwest is God's own country. I live in Brooklyn now, but long for the day I can move back.


And Go Lakota! Is there a clearing house anywhere for information on tribal rights/independence movements? How does a white man living in the big city help?
posted by wilsona at 12:09 PM on December 22, 2007


Can you recommend any sources for further reading which are not too technical, for someone without a legal background?

James Wilson's The Earth Shall Weep.
posted by spiderwire at 12:27 PM on December 22, 2007


Again. As a thought experiment. If the US split up all the wealth would FURTHER concentrate on the coasts. That is the single fact that matters. And due to that the midwest would sink into third world status quick. Texas oil or not. Hell there is Oil in Iraq and Algeria. Oil does not imply any kind of civil progress.

I think some of you are just reacting to this as some kind of provincial defense mechanism. Which is silly. This is wild speculation for fun.


This thread reminds me that I've been meaning to get the next volume of DMZ.
posted by homunculus at 1:29 PM on December 22, 2007


California wouldn't just have "issues" if it even took a slight dent in its water supply; y'all are running on empty as it is.

Well, my statement was obviously in jest, but the greater LA metro region has nearly 18 million people. That's not a slight dent at all, considering that it's over half the population of the state- a population that happens to be living on a desert. Though we may soon be running on empty with projected population growth and global warming diminishing the snow pack, that's not actually the case right now.


That's why the government keeps going out of its way to muscle water reserves from Indian reservations to get it to California. Putting aside how much is direct runoff from the Sierras, consider how much is just offsets by upstream water further northeast that displaces supply that can then be diverted to California.

Which government, and which reservations? Are you talking about the state wrestling water from California Indian tribes? Because other than diversions from the Colorado (14% of total state water use, all of which goes to the south), California is self sufficient as far as water goes- the Delta alone supplies 60% of the state's drinking water, as well as water for millions of acres of ag use. 75% of the state's total water supply comes from North of Sacramento, and 70% of all water is used by metro areas and farmers south of Sacramento. So if we were to lose the greater metro area of LA, we would in fact change the use and movement of water significantly. That's not to say that that's a reality, or that conservation is not going to be even more important in the future (as it will be globally); but my point that Los Angeles' urban population is (and always has been) a significant user of water resources from other parts of California still stands.
posted by oneirodynia at 1:01 PM on December 23, 2007


Christ, what a clusterf*ck.
posted by fourcheesemac at 9:47 AM on December 29, 2007


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