21 December 2007

Lakota Oyate Sovereignty...

In the Spirit of Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull,


Sitting Bull's People Break Away From US
From correspondents in Washington

December 20, 2007 03:10pm

Article from: Agence France-Presse
THE Lakota Indians, who gave the world legendary warriors Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse, have withdrawn from treaties with the US.

"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,'' long-time Indian rights activist Russell Means said.

A delegation of Lakota leaders has delivered a message to the State Department, and said they were unilaterally withdrawing from treaties they signed with the federal government of the US, some of them more than 150 years old.

The group also visited the Bolivian, Chilean, South African and Venezuelan embassies, and would continue on their diplomatic mission and take it overseas in the coming weeks and months.

Lakota country includes parts of the states of Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming.

The new country would issue its own passports and driving licences, and living there would be tax-free - provided residents renounce their US citizenship, Mr Means said.

The treaties signed with the US were merely "wo rthless words on worthless paper," the Lakota freedom activists said.

Withdrawing from the treaties was entirely legal, Means said.
"This is according to the laws of the United States, specifically article six of the constitution, '' which states that treaties are the supreme law of the land, he said.

``It is also within the laws on treaties passed at the Vienna Convention and put into effect by the US and the rest of the international community in 1980. We are legally within our rights to be free and independent, '' said Means.

The Lakota relaunched their journey to freedom in 1974, when they drafted a declaration of continuing independence -- an overt play on the title of the United States' Declaration of Independence from England.

Thirty-three years have elapsed since then because ``it takes critical mass to combat colonialism and we wanted to make sure that all our ducks were in a row,'' Means said.

One duck moved into plac e in September, when the United Nations adopted a non-binding declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples -- despite opposition from the United States, which said it clashed with its own laws.

``We have 33 treaties with the United States that they have not lived by. They continue to take our land, our water, our children,'' Phyllis Young, who helped organize the first international conference on indigenous rights in Geneva in 1977, told the news conference.

The US ``annexation' ' of native American land has resulted in once proud tribes such as the Lakota becoming mere ``facsimiles of white people,'' said Means.

Oppression at the hands of the US government has taken its toll on the Lakota, whose men have one of the shortest life expectancies - less than 44 years - in the world.

Lakota teen suicides are 150 per cent above the norm for the US; infant mortality is five times higher than the US average; and unemployment is rife, according to t he Lakota freedom movement's website.

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17 December 2007

Spirit Riders 2007...

Spirit Rider Teens Commemorate Wounded Knee Massacre

By Jodi Rave, Lee Enterprises Sunday, December 16, 2007

BEAR SOLDIER -- When Donaven Yellow of Wakpala
joined the Spirit Riders, he pledged to ride four years in the Big Foot
Memorial Ride, a near-300-mile journey dedicated to the Lakota ancestors
who died in one of the nation's most horrific massacres.

On Saturday, he began the fourth journey across the South Dakota prairie
with 44 riders who will spend the next two weeks en route to the Pine
Ridge reservation, picking up others along the way until they number 200.

"Riding for two weeks isn't easy," 15-year-old Donaven said. "A lot of
my friends made the same commitment. It gets really cold. You've just
got to ride it out.

"A couple of times, I didn't feel my toes. And my legs were shaking. I
had a Gatorade in my pocket. I tried to take a drink, but it was frozen
solid after a couple of hours. I was really thirsty that day, and I
wasn't warm enough to keep it thawed out."

The Spirit Riders was established in honor of a young man who went to
the Spirit World on Sept. 21, 2004. The 16-year-old suffered from
mental-health issues, his father, Manaja Hill, said.

Before he died, he found some peace with horses after riding in the Big
Foot Memorial Ride. It was his introduction to the horse culture.

"With his mental issues, that horse turned everything around," his
father said. "Here was a kid who was in constant trouble when he was in
school. I got called every day. After he got with horses, the calls
seemed to have lessened."

So Hill and a friend started a horse program to help youths. In 1998,
seven young men from the Standing Rock reservation became the first
group of Spirit Riders to join the Big Foot Memorial Ride. They've been
riding ever since. Adults now credit them for keeping the ride going.

The Big Foot Memorial Ride started in 1986, after several men in
different tribal communities shared a common vision to honor the
ancestors who died in the Wounded Knee Massacre on Dec. 29, 1890.

More than 350 unarmed men, women and children under the leadership of
Chief Big Foot, a Minneconjou Lakota from the Cheyenne River
reservation, were shot down after making an attempt to seek safety on
the Pine Ridge reservation.

Big Foot's band started their journey after learning of the death of
Chief Sitting Bull of the Hunkpapa Lakota. Today, the memory of those
slain is honored as horseback riders retrace the trail of the massacred

Riders now participate in the Big Foot Memorial Ride annually from Dec.
15-29. They end their 287-mile ride at Wounded Knee, where Big Foot's
band was buried in a mass grave.

In 1992, after adults fulfilled their vision to honor their ancestors'
memory in four consecutive rides, they felt it was time to end.

But the youths didn't want it to stop.

"The younger people kept it alive," said Ron His Horse is Thunder,
chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and a 12-year-veteran rider of
the Big Foot Memorial Ride. "For many youth, it has become a rite of
passage. They want to say: 'I've done that trail. I've ridden 300
miles.' It's good that they do. It teaches them fortitude, to go forward
without complaining. It's so much a part of who we are."

"Now, I come to support the young riders, more than anything else," His
Horse is Thunder said. "It truly has become a ride for the youth."

Adults contend youth and horses are a natural fit.

"There's no barriers," Hill said. "There's a natural rule out there: You
be nice to me, I'll be nice to you. It's about respect. My son had all
these rules. Be still. Don't talk. With a horse, you don't have those
rules. A horse will listen to what you have to say, as long as you pay
attention to him. They accepted one another. A lot of our kids respond
to that."

"Watch the actions of horse," Hill said. "And then, watch the actions of
child. They mirror each other. When you get them together, they're going
to figure out which one's which. If you put a herd of horses out there,
and put the kids with them, they're going to find each other."

The horses help build the traditions, or lakol wicohan.

"It's a good foundation to give to our kids, said John Eagle Shield Sr.,
who has provided that foundation for his own son, John Eagle Shield Jr.
"He's 16. And I haven't lost him. He was six months old when I'd be
holding him in my arms and singing at Sun Dance. He knew ceremonial
songs long before he knew powwow songs or round dance songs."

It's a matter of how you carry yourself with all these values, beginning
with prayer, respect, humility and generosity, Eagle Shield said.

"The youths that follow these ways, I doubt very much they'll have some
of these problems, ... belligerence, discipline, lack of respect for
authority. If they had this foundation, it would teach them how to live
their lives," he said.

Donaven Yellow has made the traditions of a horse culture and the values
that accompany it a key part of his life as he matures into adulthood.
He is embracing values important to being a good human being. It's a way
of life that steers him away from being self-centered, his grandfather said.

"His birthday is Dec. 25 -- Christmas Day," Pat Yellow said. "He hasn't
been home with me for three Christmases now. It will be the fourth one
coming up. I don't mind that, as long as he's doing his job there on the
ride and helping out the other youth."

Contact Jodi Rave at 1-800-396-7186 or jodi.rave@lee.net.

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14 December 2007

Floyd Red Crow Westerman (1936 – 2007)...

Floyd Red Crow Westerman Passes Away
Native Times 12/13/2007

Floyd Red Crow Westerman, Sisseton-Wapheton Dakota musician, actor, and activist, passed away at 5:00 a.m. PST, at Cedars Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles after an extended illness. He was 71.

Westerman, who began his career as a country singer, appeared in over 50 films and televison productions, including Dances with Wolves, Hidalgo, The Doors, and Poltergeist, and Northern Exposure. He appeared in 12 episodes of the 1990s TV series, Walker, Texas Ranger, as Uncle Ray Firewalker.

As a young man, he was educated at the Wapheton and Flandreau Boarding Schools, where he became a close companion and life-long friend of Dennis Banks. He left his home on the Lake Traverse reservation in South Dakota, with a suitcase and an old guitar in hand. He rambled across the country playing country music and original tunes in bars and clubs, living for some time in Denver. In 1969, his first album Custer Died for Your Sins became the background theme of the emerging Red Power Movement.

As a member of American Indian Movement, and a spokesman for the International Indian Treaty Council, Westerman traveled the world extensively working for the betterment of native people. His vision of improved social conditions for indigenous people around the globe is reflected in the music of his second album, The Land is Your Mother, 1982. In 2006, he won a NAMMY Award for his third album, A Tribute to Johnny Cash. During his career, he played and collaborated with a number of notable musicians including Willie Nelson, Kris Kristopherson, Buffy St. Marie, Jackson Browne, Harry Belafonte, and Sting.

Westerman also worked throughout his life to empower Indian youth. "They are our future," he said in a November interview. "Today we are fighting a great battle against the popular culture that surrounds them. It's a battle for their hearts and minds. We need to work to inspire them to embrace their own history and culture. Without them, we Indians have no future."

Westerman will be taken home to Sisseton, South Dakota for memorial services and burial. Plans for a memorial service in Los Angeles are also being made.

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13 December 2007

Fundraiser for Pine Ridge Kids...

Incident of Oglala @ Guild Cinema, Albuquerque, New Mexico

The Leonard Peltier Defense Committee and the Albuquerque, New Mexico Leonard Peltier Support Group ("The Wind That Chases Spirit") will host screenings of the film "Incident at Oglala" at the Guild Cinema, December 15 at 6:30pm and 8:30pm.

All proceeds from these screenings will go to purchase Christmas toys and clothes for the children and teenagers living on the Pine Ridge Reservation in Pine Ridge South Dakota. Admission is $7.00.

Seating is limited to 120 people. Ticket sales begin 30 minutes before each show. There will be an exhibit of artwork, by Leonard Peltier before and after each screening.

The Guild Cinema is located at 3405 Central Ave. NE - Call 505-255-1848 for more information. The Leonard Peltier Support Group ("The Wind That Chases Spirit") is also collecting new children's toys and new clothing for children and teenagers for its' annual trip to Pine Ridge.

Leonard Peltier Defense Committee

Website: http://www.leonardpeltier.net/
Email: info@leonardpeltier.net

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03 December 2007

Kidnapped!: Not Fiction Anymore...

This latest situation should do wonders for the US-UK business economy. Gordon Brown is probably wondering exactly how much does one really need to have "friends" like America.

[SIGH]Once again, my country makes me proud before the World (not!)...


Extradited at a moment's notice': is it time to be afraid of doing business in America?

As the 'NatWest Three' strike a plea bargain, Tessa Thorniley looks at a law that seems loaded against UK citizens accused of white-collar crime

Published: 02 December 2007

Britain's "iniquitous" extradition arrangements with the US are back in the spotlight after three UK bankers pleaded guilty to wire fraud as part of a deal with American prosecutors aimed at slashing their prison terms.

The decision by the trio – Giles Darby, David Bermingham and Gary Mulgrew, known as the NatWest Three – to strike a plea-bargain comes after a lengthy and controversial legal battle that has left the British Government facing accusations that it is failing to protect its own citizens and is exposing them to a justice system, in the US, that does not achieve justice in every case.

To date, the furore has centred on the Extradition Act 2003, with lawyers, opposition politicians and members of the business elite decrying it as one-sided because Britain has lower hurdles to extradition than the US and is able to send alleged white-collar criminals abroad without showing evidence.

Despite a legal battle in the House of Lords and European Court of Human Rights, the NatWest Three – ex-employees at Greenwich NatWest, the investment banking arm – were extradited to the US last year.

They were indicted in 2002, after the collapse of Enron, for their part in a fraudulent deal with links to the Houston-based energy-trading group.

Now, however, the case is fizzing with fresh controversy over the deal struck with the US authorities – not least because lawyers expect Britain to make plea-bargaining a feature of the legal system in the next few years.

Trish Godman, the mother of Gary Mulgrew, said last week that her son was "coerced" into pleading guilty.

The trio were facing 35 years or more in a US jail and crippling legal bills. After pleading guilty to one count of wire fraud each, they are now expected to spend three years in prison, with the prospect of serving most of the time in the UK.

It is a point regularly cited that 96 per cent of those charged with a federal offence in the US plead guilty before trial.

Luke Tolaini, an associate director at legal firm Clifford Chance and chairman of the CBI's working group on extradition, says that faced with America's draconian sentencing policy – which is particularly harsh on white-collar crime – "it was inevitable the three would strike a deal".

In the meantime, there are several other high-profile extradition cases, including Ian Norris, the former chief executive of engineering company Morgan Crucible, accused of price-fixing, and Jeremy Crook, former vice-president of Peregrine Systems, facing charges over alleged accounting irregularities. These cases have heightened concerns and led to a major campaign to push through amendments to the Extradition Act 2003.

The CBI claims the treaty enabling the US to extradite UK citizens without having to provide "prima facie" evidence is iniquitous. Rod Armitage, head of company affairs at the business group, says that inequalities need to be addressed: "Under the old extradition act, the UK requirement had been lower than the one the US applied. Now it's the other way round."

He adds that under the existing arrangement, American citizens are guaranteed minimum rights under the US constitution and some evidence-based information (relating to probable cause) must be provided to the US courts before a citizen can be extradited. "This doesn't happen in the UK. A US citizen gets a hearing; a British one does not".

British businesses, he continues, are particularly concerned about the arrangement as "people can be extradited at a moment's notice for quite technical crimes".

"An email sent from the UK via a US internet server would be considered to be within American jurisdiction. Depending on the content of the email, that could be wire fraud."

Tolaini points out that the propensity of US prosecutors to "come and get" foreigners accused of white-collar crimes, is a further cause for concern.

An extradition lawyer who asks not to be named says: "A US federal prosecutor is a political appointment; it's about how many scalps they can claim."

Although some argue that the Act was largely conceived to help in the fight against global terrorism, others argue that the Government was well aware of the implications for white-collar crime from the outset.

Since the Act was introduced in 2004, many more UK citizens have been extradited to the US than have flown the other way. Out of 97 requests by the US, 52 have been granted; the UK has made 26 requests and 17 US citizens have been sent here. The Home Office claims this proves that the Act is working fairly. "Around the same percentage of requests have been met both ways," says a spokesman.

Lawyers, though, point out that not a single IRA suspect has so far faced extradition to the UK, suggesting that the judicial process is being used selectively and politically.

A possible amendment to the Act had been conceded by the Government last year that might have helped businessmen accused of white-collar crime overseas. The change, tabled by opposition MPs, would have allowed the Home Secretary to refuse an extradition request if a "significant part of the conduct alleged to constitute the extradition offence is conducted in the UK".

This modification, known as the "forum amendment", would have needed approval by both houses in Parliament and it was agreed that no attempt to seek approval would take place for a year. When the hiatus ended on 8 November, the Government was quick to to announce that it had no plans to introduce the forum as it would have made the Extradition Act 2003 "inconsistent not only with the US-UK treaty but also with the UK's extradition arrangements with other territories".

Alistair Graham, a partner at White & Case who is acting for Norris, is among the lawyers and opposition MPs calling for the Government to amend the Act. He is still pushing for change.

"It lies within the Government's own hands to address the widespread concerns that business has by activating the forum amendment, which it accepted during last year's debate on the Criminal Justice and Extradition Act," he says.

The shadow Attorney General, Dominic Grieve, says the forum amendment needs to be looked at again and debated.

"I have tabled an amendment to the Crime and Justice Bill to have forum discussed to bring this issue back."

In the meantime, as one extradition lawyer puts it: "Everyone who does business in the US should be afraid of this Act."

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Quote of the Day...

--Banksy (b.1974?), British artist & activist

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