Feb. 20, 2020

 

United Nations Human Rights Council
Palais de Nations
Geneva, Switzerland

 

Dear Member of the Human Rights Council,

If you had the power to save a rare bird, or uncommon animal, a special fish, or butterfly, or flower from becoming extinct, would you do so?  What about a rare, very small nation of human beings?  You do have the power to save a rare, extremely small nation of people from becoming extinct and we are asking for your help.  Our small nation in North American is one of the last to have contact with the white men beginning in the 20th Century.

We are the last remaining descendants of what was known to the American colonizers as the Great Sioux Nation.  We call ourselves the Oceti Sakowin.  Many people call us the Dakota or Lakota, but we are the Oceti Sakowin.  We are an Indigenous nation that once lived in the center of North America in what are now 24 American states and 4 Canadian provinces.  According to  natural law, there were many other smaller nations also living within these same areas, but we all had our own purposes and ways of life. The state of constant warfare, as so often written by white colonizer writers, only reflects the colonizers’ perspective and is not the truth. Of course groups of people are going to appear to be war-like when in actuality they are fighting in self defense for their very survival.

In our civilizations, there were no orphans or prisons, elders were revered for their wisdom, and illness was almost eradicated. There was no need for money or riches as spirituality guided all actions. Our civilizations were matriarchal and the leaders were elder females chosen by the spirits and the people in tandem.  All shared everything in every way.  If one ate, all ate.  If one went hungry, all went hungry. And in the wisdom of our nations, there was no waste. The environment was never abused or destroyed.  Our ways of life were based on the spirituality prevalent in all things, not on the physicality of modern, Western thinking. There is not even a word for religion in our language as spirituality is a way of life.  Our nations thrived for eons, not just tens of thousands of years. The courage, fortitude, wisdom and generosity needed for such civilizations to exist in the western hemisphere is still known and practiced as much as possible today.  

In North America, where we live, there is still a handful of us that survived the forced assimilation of the United States (US).  It is this handful of us that are approaching you, the family of nations, to ask for your help as we see the extinction of our nation is imminent.

Our ancestors, just over 100 years ago, made a final Treaty for Peace in 1868 at Fort Laramie with the United States. The US asked for the Treaty as our people would not allow the US to enter into our final territory which included a most sacred place, the Black Hills. In the Treaty, not only was a specific land area designated for us to live on, but there were provisions that we would not be molested, that the Treaty Territory was for our own specific use and occupation.  There was another provision that it was our decision who could enter into our Treaty Territory.  There was also a provision for health care as the illnesses brought by the white man colonizers were nothing that our people had experienced before.  We needed more time to study their diseases. As a consequence, most of our people died from disease and starvation than from bullets.

However, according to a report given in 1867, a year before the final Treaty was signed, the Territorial Governor A.J. Faulk told the Dakota Territory Legislature that they (US) expected in twenty (20) years to have extinguished the land title of the Treaty Territory.  The US falsely entered into the Treaty negotiations with our people as they already had planned our nations’ demise through trickery and forced assimilation.  

Twenty-one years later, in 1889, the US illegally established the states of North Dakota and South Dakota.  The land title established by the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty for the Oceti Sakowin (Sioux Nation) was never lawfully extinguished.  Instead, we were put into Prisoner-of-war camps now called American Indian Reservations.  

As recently as the 1950s, a bill was introduced into the Congress of the United States that any one of us, Sioux people, leaving the reservations would be killed.  Fortunately, that bill did not become law.  Many of our people who served in the US military during World War II were already living off of the reservations, but still living within the Treaty Territory, in search of work. These veterans and their families would have been killed had the Bill become law.

Starting in 1874 and continuing to today, the United States has been illegally trespassing in our Treaty Territory.  The US removed all of the resources that we depended on for our existence primarily the American bison. The US further allowed their own people, settlers, farmers, ranchers and loggers to destroy the other animals and most of the indigenous plant life. The US also allowed extractive industries to destroy the environment with open pit mining.   Gold mining was the first form of mining in our sacred Black Hills.

In the 1960s, Uranium mining flourished and radioactive pollution from more than 2,000 abandoned Uranium mines since that time have been allowed to poison the land, water, and air in our Treaty Territory and beyond. This information was given to you at your meeting on Sept. 17, 2015, asking for the Special Rapporteur on Toxic Waste to come to do an investigation.  He told us his study was refused by the US.

The consequence of the radioactive pollution is that our people, the Oceti Sakowin nation, has the highest number of diseases caused by radioactive pollution in all of North America. And now, the US, through their own Indian Health Service, is destroying what little health care was available to us, another violation of the 1868 Treaty.  Our human right to just survive is being obliterated.  (A complaint regarding this is being sent to the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights as members from more than three hundred [300] other North American Indigenous nations are being harmed in our Treaty Territory which is located in the center of the United States.)

The family of nation established the Decolonization Committee to help all the nations to survive no matter how small.  Our little nation needs to be allowed that right.  After all, isn’t our request what the Preamble to the UN is all about?  To assist ALL nations great and small? Please, will you help us?

Our Treaty Territory is already designated in the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty, and our own form of government is still surviving as evidenced by this letter. However, we need the UN assistance to offer further decolonization for our people and return to being the nation we once were. Most importantly, we need the protection, the immediate physical protection of the United Nations to save us from total annihilation by the United States.  

Please, through the great influence of the UN Human Rights Council, will you recommend to the General Assembly that the Oceti Sakowin, the Sioux Nation, urgently needs to be saved?  For us, it is not just being allowed to preserve our nation, but is for our actual physical survival.  This is a very immediate threat.   

We, members of one of the oldest nations on Mother Earth, come to you, other relatives of the family of nations, and pray for your courage and wisdom in deciding this urgent matter.  Our lives, our very existence, is in your hands.  

Sincerely,

Zumila Wobaga, Itacan

Ms. Charmaine White Face, Spokesperson