January 03, 2008

Bold gesture or bad joke?

U.S. Out of the Upper Midwest

The Lakota Sioux start their own countryCritics back in the former Dakotas called it an “empty gesture,” with the Sioux Falls Argus-Leader making clucking sounds about “treaties their forefathers signed” in their coverage’s lead paragraph and right-bent bloggers everywhere dismissed the announcement as a stunt.Comment:  Right-wing bloggers aren't the only ones calling it an empty gesture. Almost everyone except far-left bloggers are calling it that. That's because it is an empty gesture.Last September’s non-binding Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples upheld the right to self-determination, even to the point of voiding existing legal arrangements.Comment:  The key word here is undoubtedly "non-binding."

Ironically, Means and company have given the US an excuse for not ratifying this treaty. This is exactly what conservative nationalists said would happen. Apparently they were right. So Means can take "credit" for the US's refusal to recognize indigenous rights from now on.I called up LFD and spoke to Canupa Gluha Mani (Duane Martin, Sr.) longtime AIM activist, veteran of the 1973 Wounded Knee standoff and one of the four delegates sent to Washington. “They can kill us if they want to,” he shouted, outrage venting through the receiver. “They can assassinate us."Comment:  Or they can ignore you, the most likely result.Whatever else it is, this invitation to the Lakota Sioux to imagine an independent existence in a country less riven by violence and oppression is a brilliant stroke of conceptual politics.Comment:  That much is true. Unfortunately for Means and company, that's all it is.

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