My first thought upon reading that many members of the Lakota want to secede from the union was “fuck that.”  I’m about as unsympathetic to the idea of a right to self-determination as it’s possible to be.  The Palestinians have a damn good case for a separate state.  The Tibetans have some case.   In general, I think you have the right to secede to avoid genocide, tyranny, or terrible mistreatment–history doesn’t matter, unless it involves the claims of living people (this could use a bit of refinement–Israel, for instance, couldn’t cover its ass by just waiting until all Palestinians alive in 1946/1967 had died).  Most separatist groups don’t come close to meeting those standards.  I’m hardly confident that the American Revolution did.  My reason for holding those standards is that neither governments nor ethnicities are relevantly like persons.  The question is not who has done what, but what the situation is now, and how separatism will affect it.

Then I found out that life-expectancy among Lakota men is 44 years–lower than any nation on Earth not plagued by AIDS.  So I’m officially agnostic about what to think of this.  I don’t yet feel competent to judge why that’s the case (what the sustaining causes are).  On the one hand, it is an absolute disgrace that in the richest nation on Earth, a group of people could live in such poverty.  On the other, it’s unclear how separating those people from the Union would serve to address their situation.

4 responses to “Lakota

  1. Another very relevant stat to keep in mind (which in the article you linked, too) is that the teen suicide rate is 150% higher than the average for Lakota youth. I don’t fully understand the reasons for this, either, but clearly this is a group that is experiencing some serious, pervasive problems in the current situation.

  2. Nakima Geimausaddle

    I grew up in a little town on Pine Ridge Reservation called Red Shirt. You made a comment about the high precentages of teenage suicide. I will try to illuminate this for you. Picture this. You grow up in a tare paper house. Home is wherever you happen to be when it gets dark, everyone there is related to you. You go to school, but you can’t figure out why, there are no jobs available, and no way to get somewhere where there are jobs. Check out a map and you’ll see what I mean. When you have no hope, no dreams, there is little to live for.
    It is our hope that by forming our own nation we can redistribute the “wealth”. Our government leaders were put in place by the U.S. Government and the Bureau of Indian affairs, we want our government be selected the old way, by the elders. This nation would start out being Lakota but would include humans of all races who believe as we do, that its time for this colonial system of things to be replaced.

  3. The Lakota Freedom Delegation web site is and they have the latest information there. As an anarchist, I am all for their independence. Although I don’t know firsthand their experience of living as they did tied to the U.S. by treaties, in principle, once they sever those ties, and can act for themselves, all of the statistics should improve. Acting and being acted upon are completely opposite principles and should produce completely opposite results. I cannot entirely discount their claim of placing the blame on the U.S. for their appalling conditions. But, what I wonder is, what will be the reaction of the U.S. to this?

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