Roving death squads murdered at least 342 AIM members and supporters. Hundreds more were harassed and beaten. Many more were arrested. Their crime was wanting to live free on their own land.
Leonard Peltier was victimized. He was wrongfully convicted on two first-degree murder counts. On June 1, 1977, he got two consecutive life sentences.
Despite bogus charges and prosecutorial injustice, he's been denied parole, retrial, clemency, or a pardon. Other nations, past and present congressional members, and hundreds of world dignitaries say he should be unconditionally released.
Means was more fortunate. He stayed free to remain active. In 1978, he joined The Longest Walk. Participants protested racist anti-Indian legislation at that time. It included forced sterilization of Indian women.
Earlier in 1964, Means, his father, and others occupied Alcatraz. They did so peacefully in accordance with their rights. According to broken treaty obligations, abandoned prison property belongs to Indian tribes.
On December 17, 2007, Means and other Lakota people went to Washington. They declared independence . They called it "the latest step in the longest running legal battle" in history.
It's not a cessation, they said. It's a lawful "unilateral withdrawal" from treaty obligations permitted under the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of 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."
"We offer citizenship to anyone provided they renounce their US citizenship."
"United States colonial rule is at an end."
Signed documents were delivered to the State Department. Sovereignty was declared. The Republic of Lakota was established. It's based on the 1851 Treaty of Fort Laramie. It created the Great Lakota (Sioux) Nation. It states in part:
"The territory of the Sioux or Dahcotah Nation, commencing the mouth of the White Earth River, on the Missouri River; thence in a southwesterly direction to the forks of the Platte River; thence up the north fork of the Platte River to a point known as the Red Buts, or where the road leaves the river; thence along the range of mountains known as the Black Hills, to the head-waters of Heart River; thence down Heart River to its mouth; and thence down the Missouri River to the place of beginning."
It gave Lakota people portions of northern Nebraska, half of South Dakota, one-fourth of North Dakota, one-fifth of Montana, and 20% of Wyoming.
It didn't matter. Unilateral withdrawal from all treaties and agreements became policy. America never honored its own.