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June 19, 1974 - Image 4

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1974-06-19

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America's
longest war

II/r' n/i: Thr, is //' firsf
of a ie -par/ erie on hic -
rela/inship lie/uwee the Amier-
ian I1CI/eeii1rnien/ andl el Sioun
iia/in. N /i/h/1i M1sh i a free-
lance w ri/r aind playwriirg/r. He
inuered / h Wsndnd Kine r'rege
a a rep/r/eri is ii |t 1iwright hle
hali irraI/ed" /he ldi/ri h War,
a non / irn/I, rin/ii Indian
ii aer s/rii gly 'simitur las/l
yar onfrrr/a//,. opri i/ hi//i
Pan/ric Newsi Neri, 1974.,
TIhe mnia if giintiei ha enr..
iatrd i iii- iairtrerai-ina ii tie
cnneierinm. and wiunded Knre grts
i""a'. na"i'i""ii att'ention tiii, lint
the ranlliri btwtien the Unitedi
State eeernmnt andt Amiriran
Indiar., in. a'. litrn'e ii- e.
Federal nracid .inrie hare Indie-ted
1:30 Amneeican Inalian Moement
mnenriher" tar ther role in the 197:3
icuatliin it Wonnded Knee, a
t" i tw n the Pinc Ridge In-
dfian1 Ileevitinn ina Soath Ilihota.
'Sot fiir imnre than 5Siyear', have in
nmany inwmeiitr. ii a .ingte iiititieat
geriipcntme inierniignieriineni irn..
rsecuiin. lane r o ither Iidians
lace chaeges in trihai and state
cattets.
Whast tie., tihiti the infrenta-
jolt at Woiitdiid Knee, andi ne
in the fideea < cthe, fm r wtit
Indian Peiile-.?
'Aiteeea's Iiingest wae' henins
hyv ditensing the trial xi AIM1
leader., Iniseti Mean., ald Denni.,
tanhi,. hIlt cares the itney haakh
tn the ee/tic incident., whieh teig-
geeed the 71 day nciiliatinn at
Wnttnded Knit, and tn the 150
yeae tang ieait it heohen teeatiest
whieh iieone. tue hey defetire inse
In the trial.
The defendant., claint it in the
gaseenmnen I - nnt the Indian ne-
ctiliers nf Wiiinded Knee - tnhich
as n lriat tnr Ihe tyitenmatie tvinla-
lien at Indian treat-y rights, and It
i., thoe right, wnhich the gateen-
rnin: ha Inecd ol Iin .lace-
iown tedeeal and state caurel
r1m .

PART I: TRAII
OF BROJ(EN TREATIES
rilIE INDIAN WARS are be
tog fought again - in a
federal courtroom Where Ameri-
can Indian Movement leaders
Dennis Banks and Russell
Means stand trial on charges
arising out of the 1973 occupa-
tion and siege of Wounded Knee.
Now in its sixth month, the
St. Paul, Minnesota trial be-
came the stage for an historic
confrontation when Federal
Judge Fred .. Nichid admitted
in 1868 treaty as evidence.
The Indians who defeated
General C tster in 1876 were de-
fending lands guaranteed the
Sioux Nation under the Treaty
of 1M68. Indian resistance to
U. S. domination' ended, appar-
ently for all time, in 1890 when
federal troops massacred 350
Sioiux at Wounded Knee.
Charged for conspiracy in the
1973 occupation if 'Wounded
Knee, defendants Banks and
Means charge in turn that the
United States violated the sove-
reignty of the Sioux Nation by
besieging the reservation town.
Last March, defense attorneys
called for a mistrial on grounds
that federal agents falsified
documents, withheld evidence,
and maintained illegal electronic
surveillance of lawyer - client
conversations. But Banks and
Means chose to continue the
proceedings. Rather than gain
freedom on grounds of govern-
ment misconduct, the defend-
ants are attempting to show the
court that government treaty
violations led to violence at
Wiinded Knee.
THE GOVERNMENT
CLAIMS that Oglala Sioux and
members of the American In-
dian Movement (AIM) illegally

IlE
Michigan Daily
Edited and managed by Students at the
University of Michigan
Wednesday, June 19, 1974
News Phone: 764-0552
kTing aim a handguns
N THE MIDDLE of the night, a man awoke suddenly
to a muffled sound on the floor below. Immediately
his mind flashed to thoughts of an armed robber.
He quickly grabbed the snub-nosed .38 revolved he
kept in the night stand and quietly moved down the
stairs. Carefully he aimed the gun at a shadowy figure
in the living room. He pulled the trigger.
The gun recoiled. The room filled with a deafening
roar and the sickly-sweet smell of gunpowder. The man's
son fell to the- floor - dead.
The teenager was trying to sneak in from a late
party.
This and similar stories account for most of the
'accidental" shooting deaths reported each year which
can be directly attributed to the misuse of handguns.
Presently a state group called the Citizens United to
Save Lives (CUSL) is attempting to place a proposal on
the November ballot that would ban private ownership
of handguns.
The proposal is one that definitely should go before
the people and we hope will be overwhelmingly approved.
Banning handguns from all private citizens is a
necessary first step in cutting a run-away homicide level
that reached nearly 1,100 in Michigan last year. Over
half those deaths involved handguns.
'JHERE ARE FEW compelling reasons for private citi-
zens to arm themselves to the teeth. Banning hand
buns will help alleviate that undesirable situation and
consequently prevent a few "accidents."

occupied the South Dakota town.
The United States government,
whose forces occupied the Pine
Ridge reservation during the
1973 conflict, used a petition
signed by tribal council presi-
dent Dick Wilson to justify the
legality of its siege of Wounded
Knee
The petition was withdrawn
from evidence under suspicion
of fraud when an FBI agent
admitted he had been unable to
find the document several
months after its apparent date.
The defendants assert that
they came to Wounded Knee on
the invitation of residents, the
Oglala Sioux Civil Rights Or-
ganization and traditional Sioux
leaders. A petition signed by 69
Wounded Knee residents calls
upon the United States Depart-
ment of Justice to "cease and
desist from firing upon our guest
members of the American In-
dian Movement."
WOUNDED KNEE, a town
less than a mile square, is on
reservation land. Its residents,
like their "guests" whose pres-
ence led to the federal siege,
are predominantly Oglala Sioux.
If the courts rule that U. S.
military actions at Wounded
Knee violated Sioux sovereignty,
Russell Means and Dennis
Banks will have won a victory
in a struggle that goes back
150 years.
The Treaty of- 1868 was the
last of a dozen made between
the United States and the Sioux
Nation. It concluded a war be-
tween the U. S. Army and
Sioux led by Oglala chief Red
Cloud. 'This round of the In-
dian wars began when the Ar-
my, in violation of an 1851
Treaty, established a series of
forts to-protect miners en route
to gold fields in Montana. Only
when soldiers withdrew from
these these forts did Red Cloud
sign the Treaty of 1868.
The treaty established as In-
dian territory the country east
of the Big Born mountains,
north of the North Platte River,
and west of the Missouri River:
an area comprising the western
half of South Dakota, the north-
ern half of Nebraska, and por-
tions of Montana and Wyoming.
On this territory "no white per-
sons or persons shall be per-
mitted to settle . . or without
the Consent of the Indians .
to pass through the same." It
stipulated that no grant of the
land would be valid without the
signatures of three-fourths of
the adult male Indians living
thereon.
HOWEVER, IN 1877, follow-
ing the discovery of gold in the
Black Hills and the defeat of

Custer at Little Big Horn, Con-
gress passed an act confiscat-
ing the Black Hills. In return
for the Sioux' sacred land, the
act promised allotments of mon-

ey and nouses. anese toe in-
dians never received.
This was the first of a series
of confiscatory acts by federal
and state legislatures which re-
duced Sioux lands from a roll-
ing ocean of plains to a few ar-
bitrarily defined parcels of land
-little of it actually arable. ,
With the slaughter of buffalo
- which the Sioux had used for
food, clothing, tools and cere
monial objects - Indians in the
area became completely depen-
dent on the federal government.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs
has increased this dependency
by leasing Sioux land which has
economic value. Individual
Sioux receive such sums as $5
per acre per year.
The unemployment rate on
the Pine Ridge reservation is
54 per cent. Consequently many
Sioux depend on welfare; av-
erage family income is less
than $21100 a year.
ALCOHOLISM AND SUI-
CIDE are major problems
among the 11,000 Oglala inside
the reservation. Their suicide
rate is five times the national
average. The arrest rate is the
U. S. average times sixteen,
and .nearly half of these arrests
are related to the overuse of
alcohol.
The issue of sovereignty
which Banks and Means are
raising involves more than the
question of land and the eco-
nomic misery inflicted by the
dominant society. Central to
the events which led to the
Wounded Knee conflict are
grievances regarding the sys-
tems of justice and govern-
ment which the Sioux live un-
der.
The trail to Wounded. Knee
began, symbolically enough, in
Custer, South Dakota. In this
town south of the Black Hills
N a t i o n a 1 Forest, Dar-
ald Schmitz, a white man,
stood trial for the fatal knifing
of Wesley Bad Heart Bull on
January 21, 1973. Schmitz was
charged with second - degree
manslaughter, the mimimum
homicide charge in South Da-
kota, and freed on $2500 bond.
ON FEBRUARY 6TH two
hundred protesters, including
Banks, a Chippewa from Min-
nesota, and Means, an Oglala
from Pine Ridge, came to the
Custer County Court House. The
protesters wanted Schmitz
charged with murder. When In-
dians stormed the doors of the
courthouse, they were met by
police and rio-equipped High-
way Patrolmen who used tear-'
gas, smoke bombs, and water
hoses to clear Indians from the
area.
Before the day was over eight
lawmen were wounded, thirty
Indians jailed, and -the Cham-
ber of Commerce building burn-
ed to the ground. Among those

arraigned was Sarah Bad Heart
Bull, the victim's mother.
The charged atmosphere at
Custer, like a Dakota storm-
cloud, moved northeast to Ra-
pid City. There on February
9th police arrested Indians off
the streets after a barfight be-
tween an Indian and white men.
Indians retailiated by damag-
ing bars frequented by whites.
Over forty people wee arrest-
ed, all of them Indian.
ON FEBRUARY 21ST t h e
storm passed to the nearby
Pine Ridge reservation. The Og-
lala Sioux Tribal Council met to
consider the impeachment of
council president Richard Wil-
son. Wilson was charged with
nepotism, misuse of tribal
funds, failure to convene or con-
sult the council, illegal leas-
ing of reservation land to white
people, and the maintenance
with federal monies of a private
police force popularly known
as Wilson's goon squad".
During the months preceding
the takeover of Wounded Knee,
reservation Sioux made ap-
proximately 150 complaints to
the federal government of civil
rights violations by Wilson and
his police. These included
charges of intimidation, beat-
ings and other violence. The
government responded to none
of these charges.
The attempt to impeach Wil-
son was frustrated when he
demanded an immediate hear-
ing, for which his opposition on
the council was unprepared.
The anti-Wilson members walk-
ed out. Those remaining voted
to drop the charges.
(Wilson was recently re-elect-
ed by a 1730 to 1530 vote over
Russell Means. Means, on trial
and unable to campaign, called
the election "illegal and an in-
credible travesty of justice.'
Wilson ordered those who voted
for Means to leave the reser-
vation. He had previously or-
dered Means arrested if the
AIM leader entered the reser-
vation. Means is a resident of
Pine. Ridge.)
A WEEK AFTER THE im-
peachment meeting, Means was
beaten up within 100 yards of
the Bureau of Indian Affairs
Agency and Police Station, per-
haps by members of Wilson's
goon squad. Also beaten was
Gary Thomas, a white legal aid
attorney.
That night, February 27, 1973,
a caravan of Oglala Sioux and
AIM members drove into
Wounded Knee. This act of pro-
test, met by federal siege, be-
came a 71-day battle: the first
major violent struggle between
Indians and the U. S. govern-
ment since the Wounded Knee
Massacre 83 years before.
PART .I: THE SIEGE OF
WOUNDED KNEE

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