Letters: 7/21/16

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Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

Dyer was mostly right
I always enjoy Joel Dyer’s articles in the Weekly, but have to correct one serious error in the one he wrote on the benefit for the Great Sioux Nation’s claim to the Black Hills [Re: News, July 7]. It is a very common mistake, but one that implicitly diminishes the history and sovereignty of indigenous nations and peoples.

Joel states several times in the article that the Black Hills [and other Native lands] were “given” to Native Americans forever in the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie. And that nine years later the U.S. government illegally “took back” the Black Hills. The United States never had legitimate title to the ancestral lands of the Great Sioux Nation and so could not “give” those lands to the Sioux, nor, as the U.S. Supreme Court subsequently ruled in 1980 did the U.S. have any authority under the law of nations and treaties to “take back” lands it never owned.

What we call “Indian reservations” are lands reserved from, not to, cession by indigenous sovereign nations under nation-to-nation agreements — treaties subject to international law.

Back then, and now, under the law of nations the only way one nation could receive legitimate title to the territory of another nation was in a treaty whereby one nation “ceded” territory to the other or as reparations in a “just war.” As the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights ruled in the 2002 Dann case, in a similar matter involving the theft of Western Shoshone lands by the United States, under international law a dominant colonial nation cannot simply illegally take and occupy the land and territory of another sovereign nation and then unilaterally choose to “pay” for its crime with money rather than the return of the stolen lands.

The original claim to U.S. title of these lands is the Louisiana Purchase of 1802, whereby the U.S. purchased from the French its interests in some 828,000 square miles for about $11 million. The colonial term “Sioux” came from the French (the term the Great Sioux federation of sovereign indigenous nations use for themselves is the “Ochethi Sakowin,” meaning “Seven Council Fires”). However, the Sioux had never been conquered by nor ceded their lands to the French. Thus, the French — again under international law as it existed then and exists now — could not and did not transfer any title to Sioux lands that it did not have to the United States. This is demonstrated by the need for subsequent treaties, including those in 1851 and 1868, between the Great Sioux Nation and the United States, which would have been unnecessary if the U.S. had obtained any title to Sioux lands from the French.

The Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868 is clearly a “peace treaty” between two independent nations following border conflicts and wars, including the Dakota War of 1862, which ended when President Lincoln authorized the hanging of 38 Dakota men in the greatest mass execution in U.S. history after the U.S. had breached the terms of treaties it made in 1851. U.S. military tribunals in Minnesota had initially convicted and sentenced to death 303 Dakota Sioux warriors, some in trials lasting less than five minutes, but President Lincoln, despite pressure from white Minnesotans to “hang men for votes,” commuted the death sentences of all but 38.

Following the executions, the mass grave was raided for cadavers and some of the warriors were skinned by a military surgeon who sold the skins in Mankato, Minnesota, and others were kept for lessons in osteology by the Mayo Clinic.

Numerous subsequent battles between Sioux warriors and the U.S. occurred in Sioux territory between then and Red Cloud’s War in which the indigenous nations were victorious, and which led to the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868.

Article I of the Treaty proclaims: “From this day forward all war between the parties to this agreement shall forever cease.”

Article II then “sets apart” from “relinquishment” — from cession — those certain territory described in the treaty and the signatory indigenous nations then “relinquish all claims or right in and to” the lands outside that territory.

Thus, the “setting apart” in the treaty was not a “giving” by the United States of land and territory it did not own to the Sioux, but was an express reservation by the Great Sioux Nation of those ancestral lands from relinquishment of territory and lands to the United States.

The Sioux had been the victors in the War and the United States sought peace. The purpose of this provision of this peace treaty was to demarcate and secure from encroachment the territorial boundaries of the Great Sioux Nation, not to cede any land to the United States.

Under international law, which the United States chose and choses to ignore, the Ochethi Sakowin continue to hold lawful title to those lands and territory to this very day.

Obviously, the occupying imperial colonial power would seek to declare both its ownership of the lands of colonized nations and its “largesse” in “giving” land to its indigenous victims. But, such declarations are fraudulent propaganda meant to assuage the consciences of the dominant race and its leaders and courts.

The only things the United States, as the colonial successor then and now to the original invading imperialist powers, ever “gave” the Sioux or any other indigenous peoples here or in other countries around the world are slow death, disease and forced removal and assimilation — what we now call genocide and ethnocide.

Andrew B. Reid, JD, LLM, Counsel for the Oglala Sioux Tribe (Oglala Lakhota Oyate), Adjunct Professor of International and Human Rights Law of Indigenous Peoples University of Denver Sturm College of Law

Iran’s nuclear program
I’m concerned that attempts by members of Congress to pass new sanctions and other harsh legislation could sabotage the deal and reverse this progress. I hope that our senators will lead efforts to support the gains we’ve made and oppose any efforts to undermine the deal.
Rob Carter/Lafayette

Taking the long view of history
Joel Dyer’s 1996 conversation with Howard Zinn [RE: Cover story, June 30} shows how a long historical view into the past can create a lens through which to see the future. Zinn’s words still resonate today — in the pages of Boulder Weekly, in the 2.6 million copies of The People’s History of the United States and on the public airwaves thanks to David Barsamian and Alternative Radio which maintains an audio archive of more than 50 recordings of Howard Zinn at www.alternativeradio.org.
Thanks for keeping the legacy of historian Howard Zinn alive.
Joe Richey/Boulder

Boulder still needs growth like a hole in their head
They, the City of Boulder, should have built much more public, subsidized and low income housing, instead of allowing million dollar condos, opting out of the “you must build some affordable housing” on site of any high scale development “plan” moving forward. Instead they took the money and I wonder what it was really spent on?

Millions upon millions…

You dropped the ball, just like with the homeless situation and punishing “them,” the poor and wretched sub human kind, the vagabonds.

Boulder City Council, City Manager and City Attorney: Will Boulder ever really be progressive, or just politically correct and then not really act on the principles they supposedly stand for?

When it doesn’t cost them, the citizens and politicians of Boulder will do as little as possible, even make “back room deals,” trading realty and less desirable plots between the Boulder Housing Partners and The City of Boulder, making a killing off the poor and disenfranchised.

Wonder why most of the board of the Housing Partners are rich, fat cat realtors or connected to them?

“The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind.”

I can smell the shit all the way from Boulder to Providence, which is ethnically and ethically more diverse, though even more corrupt than your beloved City Of Boulder, lily white and don’t know what reality is, so they create their own, which doesn’t include the poor, disenfranchised and/or homeless. They will provide you a bed in the Boulder County jail, though, if you resist in any way.

Keep moving!!!

Anyone for a high-priced salad at Whole Foods, followed by a couple hours at Vic’s, on the computer, living in a virtual world, in the city of the rich and infamous, living in the Disneyland they call Boulder, Colorado?

Sure miss that town!!!

I could go for another “Boxer Rebellion,” see who must have to stand naked, even the Boulder City Council and City Government.
Seth Brigham/Providence nee Boulder

Convention time is an opportunity for seniors
The Democratic and Republican conventions are upon us and regardless of political party the next president must listen to the needs of older Americans. Seniors today are in true peril because of the severe dilution of our so-called “federally guaranteed” ERISA law protections.

The 1974 Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) was signed into law under President Gerald Ford to protect vulnerable older Americans and establish minimum standards and protections for pensioners. Now 42 years later, too many of our former employers, aided by the insurance industry and Wall Street, are subverting ERISA by dumping their retirees’ earned pensions, into unprotected group annuity contracts.

Unlike pensions, annuities are not protected against lawsuits and creditor and bankruptcy claims, nor by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, and are barely sheltered by 50 different insurance industry run state guaranty associations.

The next President and Congress have a moral obligation to uphold the intent of ERISA and protect the earned rights of older Americans against corporate tricks that devastate the foundation of our retirement security.

The non-profit ProtectSeniors.Org of which I am a part, is leading the fight for retirees’ but can only be successful with a chorus of many loud voices behind them. I urge my fellow retirees to join me and ProtectSeniors.Org in making our issues heard.

We must use our votes this election year to support only those who support the financial security of retirees.
Frederick Whitford/Winterpark