The Indians Just Quit US! …Or DID They?
By: Warner Todd Huston
Sioux Indians “Withdraw From the USA”? Or not!
Here is the kind of story that really proves how little the MSM bothers to research things, how they often simply print glorified press releases without doing any real “journalism,” and how the defective end product gets picked up and regurgitated like it is suddenly a “fact.” In this one we have the story of “the Lakota Sioux Indians” announcing that “they” have withdrawn from agreed upon treaties with the US government and that they are now a sovereign nation, no longer to be called citizens of the USA. Problem is “the Lakota Sioux Indians” that have made this announcement are just an unaffiliated group of Indian activists the leader of whom does not represent the official Lakota tribe leadership! Yet here is the news media reporting this story as if all “the Lakota Sioux Indians” have banded together and quit the union.
Take this report from USA Today: Lakota withdraw from treaties, declare independence from U.S.
The Lakota Sioux Indians, whose ancestors include Sitting Bull, Red Cloud and Crazy Horse, have withdrawn from all treaties their forefathers signed with the U.S. government and have declared their independence. A delegation delivered the news to the State Department earlier this week.
Wow, it sounds momentous, alright. But, who says that “the Lakota Sioux Indians” have abandoned their treaties?
“We are no longer citizens of the United States of America and all those who live in the five-state area that encompasses our country are free to join us,” said Russell Means, a longtime Indian rights activist. “This is according to the laws of the United States, specifically Article 6 of the Constitution,” which states that treaties are the supreme law of the land.
And who is this Russell Means? He is a long time Indian activist and sometimes Hollywood actor who does not officially represent any tribe, that’s who. It takes the local press to make this clear. The Rapid City Journal of Rapid City, South Dakota informs us that, “Means’ group is based in Porcupine on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation,” and that “it is not an agency or branch of the Oglala Sioux Tribe. Means ran unsuccessfully for president of the tribe in 2006.”
Yet in report after report, this Means character is presented as if he is “the Lakota Sioux” when, in truth, all he really is, is A Lakota Sioux — not a representative of all of them. He does not represent American Indians except as a tangential, activist. He has no authority to make this “declaration of Independence” from the U.S.A. for “the” Lakota or any other American Indian tribe for that matter.
It turns out that these reports are nearly all just a rehash of Russell Meansâ€™ press releases and not based on any real reporting at all.
And here is the worst part. The bulk of the news outlets that have picked up this story are foreign press agencies like the Agence Presse France, The Telegraph, and Radio Netherlands, all of whom presented this as if it was somehow legal and binding instead of an activist’s scheming.
So, since this story wasn’t reported correctly, foreigners are imagining that all American Indians are trying to leave the USA and become a new nation. The truth is less shocking, that Russell Means does not represent “the Lakota Sioux Indians” at all.
What we end up with here is lazy reporting, pure and simple. Instead of making clear to the reader that this Means fellow is but an activist, a cheap version of Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton without the clout, the reader could be excused for imagining that the entire of the Sioux Nation is prepared to quit the U.S.A.
The American media at work once again.