On November 6, South Dakota's governor Michael Rounds declared a state of emergency as heavy snow blanketed the state and threatened all parts of it - including Native American reservations.
They, however, were excluded from his declaration. They'll get no badly needed help, and it's an all too familiar story for our nation's original inhabitants. They've been abused and slaughtered for over 500 years. At Mabila, Acoma Mesa, Conestoga, the Trail of Tears, Pamunkey, Mystic River, Yellow Creek, Sand Creek, Gnadenhutten, and Wooded Knee. At far too many other places as well at a cost of many millions of lives, now forgotten and erased from memory.
Worst still, our Native people continue to be systematically repressed and mistreated. They live in poverty and despair. They're mocked and demonized in films and society as drunks, beasts, primitives, savages, and people to be Americanized or warehoused on reservations and forgotten.
Their cultures are willfully denegrated. Their legacy is one of millions slaughtered, betrayal, treaties made and broken, stolen lands, rights denied, and welfare criminally ignored to this day.
The Lakotahs are one of many examples, and the Republic of Lakotah web site highlights their plight. It welcomes "all self-sufficient People who come with an open Heart, a Passion for Freedom and a Love for Grand Mother Earth."
In a commentary titled "Broken Promises & Laws," it describes a Broken People whose lands were stolen, buffalo massacred, people slaughtered, and who were herded onto reservations in violation of Treaties successive US governments signed and then abrogated.
The Treaty of 1851, for example, in which the government requested a right-of-way for a road through Lakotah lands to the newly-discovered Montana gold fields. It became known as the Bozeman Trail to be used only until all gold was removed. By the Civil War it was gone and the government reneged. Forts were erected on its right of way. Lakotahs demanded they be removed. The US refused, war ensued, and it ended with the Treaty of 1868.
It stated that "The government of the United States desires peace, and its honor is hereby pledged to keep it." It also re-affirmed all rights the Indians were granted under the 1851 Treaty. Those rights and all others were abrogated and denied.
Western North and South Dakota Lakotahs are one of seven Sioux tribes comprising the Great Sioux Nation and are best known by their redoubtable leaders - Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, Red Cloud and Black Elk, among others. Names even young school children know but not their heroic feats and the great price they and their people paid.
Before the 1770s, Sioux held territories from Minnesota to the Rocky Mountains and from the Yellowstone to the Platte Rivers. Until the Treaty of 1868, they were the richest Native American nation of the northwestern plains, but years earlier their lives were irrevocably changed. Treaties were made and broken. Settlers, railroads, and mining interests took their lands and resources.
In 1874, General George Custer invaded the most sacred Lakotah territory, the Black Hills (Paha Sapa), and with him came gold seekers. An illegal occupation followed along with billions of dollars of stolen resources and great numbers of lives lost. All in the name of progress to colonize the continent's West. All at the expense of our Native peoples who lost everything as a result.
The earlier 1787 Northwest Ordinance was deceptive on its face. Supposedly to afford Indians "justice (and) humanity," it, in fact, expanded the nation to admit new states on stolen Native American lands. Wars followed. Broken promises and treaties as well in violation of Article 6 of the Constitution that states:
"This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land" - binding without qualification on the executive, legislature and judiciary.
The Sioux acted in good faith to avoid confrontation, but in vain. The executive, Congress, and judiciary denied them their lands, vital resources, and basic rights through a succession of repressive laws:
-- Homestead Acts - for settlers only that gave them title to 160 acres of "underdeveloped" land outside the original 13 colonies; 1.6 million in all got around 270 million acres, or 10% of all US land between 1862 - 1886;