Earlier events led to the 2007 declaration. In 1974, 5,000 International Indian Treaty Council delegates, representing 97 North and South American Indigenous People, signed a Declaration of Continuing Independence.
It was a "Manifesto representing the wisdom of thousands of people, the Ancestors, and the Great Mystery supports the rights of Indigenous Nations to live free and to take whatever actions are necessary for sovereignty."
Numerous elders approved it. They represented ancestors born to live free. They gave delegates two mandates:
(1) Gain international recognition. In September 2007, the UN Declaration of Indigenous Rights affirmed it.
(2) "We must always remember that we were once a free People. If we don't, we shall cease to be Lakota."
The right to return to their original free and independent status was asserted. On December 17, 2007, they declared it formally.
In United States v. Sioux Nation (1980), the Supreme Court upheld a $105 million award to eight Sioux tribes. It was compensation for lost land. It was lawlessly taken.
The Court, however, denied what Sioux people most wanted - their land back. As a result, they refused the money. They reasserted their sovereign rights.
Thirty-two years of compound interest makes the 1980 award worth $400 million today. It's a tiny fraction of what Sioux people lost. They demand and deserve what's rightfully theirs. America's highest court has no sovereignty over their rights. Neither does political Washington.
Lakota people say US law supports them. America systematically broke treaties and stole their land. It's theirs and they want it back. The Republic of Lakota claims it.
On September 29, 2012 Means reiterated what he and others declared in December 2007, saying:
"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."
He cited longstanding problems and grievances. They include land theft, resource plunder, poverty, unemployment, repression, and overall human depravation. All of it remains out of sight and mind.
Life expectancy for Lakota men is less than 44 years. It's the lowest of all sovereign countries. It's the highest in America. Infant mortality is threefold higher than the US average. Diseases are a major problem. "Cancer is now at epidemic proportions."