THE DOG SOLDIER LEDGER
CONGESTION ANTICIPATED ALONG THE THIEVES ROAD
The Dog Soldier Ledger is taken from www.lakotaoyate.com, a website initiated by a group
of traditionalists based on the Pine Ridge reservation who have united in an attempt to
defend and preserve Lakota culture from exploitation.
In 1980, the US Supreme Court decreed that, 'A more ripe and rank case of dishonorable
dealing will never, in all probability, be found in our [American] history,' after hearing
our treaty claims and ruling that the United States government had violated the Fort
Laramie Treaty of 1868 when it unlawfully invaded, and seized, the Black Hills.
The actions of President Ulysses S. Grant and Generals Sheridan, Sherman and Terry,
resulted in our ancestors' defense of the treaty, our sovereignty, and way of life
throughout 1876. Those military encounters included our defeating General Crook's forces
at the Rosebud, and General George Armstrong Custer's 7th Cavalry at the Little Bighorn.
Two years earlier, Custer had furrowed the Thieves Road when, in contravention of the 1868
Fort Laramie Treaty, he lead an illegal expedition into the Black Hills to confirm rumors
that our sacred land was 'rich' in gold.
Following the US Supreme Court's decision, the Indian Claims Commission awarded our people
$100 million. We rejected the money and reasserted that the Black Hills were not for sale
at any price. Subsequently, the Oglala Sioux tribe filed suit in US District Court to
quiet title to the Black Hills, and for $11 billion in damages for the 'Denial of the
absolute and undisturbed use and occupation of the Black Hills for 103 years.' The battle
The US Supreme Court's award of $100 million is placed in context by the profits extracted
by only one of the numerous mining operations in the Black Hills. At the time of the
award, Homestake Mine had already plundered in excess of $14 billion from gold and silver,
dating back to 1876. With accruing interest, the Supreme Court award has risen to over
$400 million, still a mere fraction of Homestake's profits. We continue to reject it and
emphasize that the Black Hills are not for sale.
Hypothetically, how far would that money spread between our individual tribal members?
Does the US government seriously think that our sacred homeland, The Heart of Everything
That Is, equates to little more than the value of a new TV set per tribal member? We are
shapes of the earth. The Black Hills provide the umbilical chord that connects us to our
spirituality and way of 'being' - the living part of 'human'. We are the land; Paha Sapa
is our DNA and our DNA puts us at one with our ancestors, there is no separation. This
land is our flesh and blood, not real estate.
Who could possibly agree with a judicial system that disregarded the victims and allowed
the murderers, rapists and thieves decide upon what level, if any, their recompense should
take? Recently, a member of a neighboring 1868 treaty tribe stood trial for what amounted
to feeding his family. Accused of shooting an elk in contravention of hunting regulations,
he defended himself by stating his rights as a tribal member in the area defined in
accordance with the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868. He lost the case and in summation the
judge described the treaty as 'temporary and precarious'.
How can a covenant that, when signed, became the law of the land under the constitution of
the governing body that created the judiciary be 'temporary and precarious'? Was this
finally admission that the law of the United States is 'temporary and precarious?'
We still live, and fight, within the confines of that imposed foreign law. The Great Sioux
Nation's struggle for the Black Hills has many historic, and contemporary, comparisons on
a global scale - the Palestinian's struggle with Israel for the Occupied Territories being
one that makes the headlines. We await reparations from our occupiers and wartime
adversary, the United States government, that might proportionately reflect that which
they assigned to Germany and Japan after the Second World War, and that which will
undoubtedly rebuild Yugoslavia now the bombing has subsided.
Gazing out across our sacred Black Hills are the faces of Presidents Washington,
Jefferson, Roosevelt and Lincoln - Mount Rushmore, a so called 'shrine' to democracy. But
how can a shrine celebrating democracy be carved into land that even the supreme judiciary
of the invaders admits was illegally seized and occupied?
George Washington was responsible for the annihilation of tens of thousands of sovereign
tribal members east of the Mississippi and set the precedent of deceit and dishonor for
making and breaking treaties.
Thomas Jefferson, a prolific 'slave owner', who expressed the belief that people of color
were inferior to Caucasians - somehow 'subhuman' - demonstrated his capacity for hypocrisy
by fathering the children of Sally Hemmings, one of his 'slaves'. Jefferson set Westward
Expansion in motion and made Manifest Destiny and the genocide of Native people west of
the Mississippi a reality.
Teddy Roosevelt was responsible for some of the greatest acts of theft from sovereign
Indian Nations in history, annexing huge tracts of sacred land to create 'National Parks'
and 'National Monuments'.
Abraham Lincoln was an 'Indian Fighter', a tradition we are familiar with in the Dakotas,
that spans from Custer to Governor Janklow. Lincoln fought to the east of us, alongside
Jefferson Davis, to crush the Sauk and Fox resistors of Black Hawk who sought to protect
their sacred lands west of the Wabash River. When Davis became President of the
Confederacy, Lincoln was President of the Union, and the two ex-comrades presided over the
war that didn't so much free the slaves as free America to join the industrial revolution,
machines being more productive than tethered men. In the week that he signed the
Emancipation Proclamation to end slavery, Lincoln also signed the order to execute 38
Dakota men in Mankato, Minnesota in 1862, the largest mass execution in American history.
The crime? They 'revolted' in order to feed their starving families, the government's
approach to their treaty having become 'temporary and precarious'.
For us, these individuals are far from shining beacons of democracy. If the authorities at
Mount Rushmore had any interest in democracy surely they would display the Fort Laramie
Treaty of 1868 and accord our people the opportunity of telling the other side of the
On his recent visit to our reservation, President Clinton spoke with awe struck admiration
of Mount Rushmore, saying he was 'Profoundly moved' by his pilgrimage there. Clinton's
entourage claimed that 'at last the bright sun of American opportunity' might shine upon
us and free us from economic bondage. To reach that Promised Land, all we have to do is
close our eyes when we see the word 'assimilation' between every line of their speeches.
Essentially, if we forgive and forget the 'imperfect' past, we will be offered the chance
to acquiesce to assimilation by accepting vocational training that will better prepare us
to bolster the lowest sector of the US free market economy. We are being offered the
menial rung of the employment ladder, the jobs the dominant society don't want but their
pay masters want us to do because we, theoretically, are so desperate that we will
undertake these tasks for lower wages than any other labor force.
This 'Bright sun of American opportunity' offered by Cuomo and Clinton is little more than
serfdom and a new form of reliance and dependence that opens our people, land and
sovereignty to the continued march of the corporate state down the long established and
well trodden Thieves Road.
the sale of the Black Hills is the important thing. It doesn't make any difference how
much money we might get, we should refuse it and that should be our position for all time.
That way the land remains forever ours by broken treaty. In the Christian ethic, if you
steal land - including by broken treaty - you have to pay for it, give it back or both! It
is the moral obligation to the words of honor written in that treaty. We have a moral
obligation over the United States, and America will always have to deal with this dark
side to it. The treaty wasn't honored so they broke the contract and any treaty signed at
that level is above the Constitution, it is the law of the land, and to those among my
people who say, 'I don't think we will ever get the land back', it doesn't make any
difference - the land is still there, we should refuse any kind of offer and never sign.
Our spirituality is related to the land and that is why they have never wanted to give a
full definition on that relationship because if they do then we lay claim to all of the
land! Sovereignty is part of our spirituality and nobody can take that away." Floyd
Red Crow Westerman.