The prominent Native American activist Russell Means passed away on Monday. In 2008 he met with RT to talk about the Native Americans withdrawal from the US, their fight for recognition and his unhappiness with US citizenship.
At the end of 2007, a large group of Native Americans from South Dakota declared the independence of the Lakotah Republic from the United States, and renounced their US citizenship.
Following the incident RT’s Nadezhda Kevorkova met Russell Means, who told her about his struggle for independence.
RT: Russell, you are no longer a U.S. citizen, are you?
Russell Means: I am not. I am a Lakotah citizen, and I really regret about those who are hesitant to terminate their U.S. citizenship.
RT: In Russia many people dream of getting US citizenship, and they consider it stupid if anyone could’ve stayed in the U.S. under any pretext but failed to do so. What do you make of that?
RM: The United States is a fake country that has no culture. It’s easy to manipulate such a country, and to channel its people. The U.S. has a façade shown to the rest of the world, but few know of its reverse side as thoroughly as Indians do. The picture people see is not the reality of today’s United States. Even the President who’s in office today wasn’t really elected, like back in the year 2000. Young people certainly strive to get here to achieve their dreams. But really anyone coming only has one reason: they want to become rich and successful, and they want to get their opportunities [to succeed]. Once you talk to them you realize they don’t even dream of anything beyond money-making. This was the reason Europeans came here. This is the principle of the American life. The world is sick and tired of American prosperity. The world is waking up.
RT: You have declared the Republic of Lakotah’s independent from the United States. What has the response been like?
RM: The world has shown a great response that’s been growing by the day. Thanks to the internet, we see how keen people are about our freedom. A large number of people support us, and welcome us. People are vividly interested in our independence. The world understands us; while the US government doesn’t.
RT: Who’s been supporting you?
RM: People don’t merely support us; thousands of people demonstrate their willingness to come to the Republic of Lakotah. Unlike the unfortunate refugees fleeing to the U.S., those willing to join us are highly qualified professionals – doctors, lawyers, professors, teachers, scientists, various profile engineers, computer specialists, farmers. When people employ their minds they understand the meaning, and value, and the true meaning of freedom. We’re excited about anyone. If Americans want to join us we welcome them as well. The Lakota are a free people in their free country. The global situation has never been more favorable for us.
RT: There’s a notion that Native Americans are now running casinos in their reservations, and making huge profits from them.
RM: Casinos are legalized robbery. Only weak-minded and weak-spirited would want to spend their time playing in them. There won’t be any casinos in the Republic of Lakotah. We don’t want people to be robbed under a pretext that this kind of business is profitable for a tribe.
RT: What kind of difficulties do you expect to face, such as traveling outside the U.S. without a passport?
RM: A passport is required to be able to return to your home country. You only need an ID within the country; and the same applies to Europe. People will need their Lakotah passports to travel the world; this is something we’ve been working on now. As for me, I don’t expect any problems leaving the country; but they may want stop me from getting back in, that’s a possibility. It would be interesting if an American-born wouldn’t be allowed to return to his homeland. According to a UN convention, all groups of nationalities have the right to their own passports. So we are operating within international law.
RT: What is the meaning of freedom that Lakotah represents?
RM: Today the world lives by 17th-century values. That’s when the idea emerged that interests of an individual were protected by representative democracy. Few understand that a national government isn’t the most balanced kind of representation.
The strongest kind of representation is an association of communities where each community is a group of free citizens that guarantees their protection. The United States was intended as such a union of communities but they are no longer that way. They became an old-fashioned system of hierarchal governance.
The Republic of Lakotah will be designed on a communities principle based on consensus between them. Each community will have their own judges, law enforcement teams, and electoral councils. A community governed by its people doesn’t need police.
The patriarchal governance system is based on fear that produces various phobias. Men fear women, and women gain so much power that their identity gets modified. Refugees storm the state borders, and states protect their borders, maintain armies of prisoners, and practice torture and execution. The entire society is saturated with fear that’s been stirred up artificially. A patriarchal state believes in negative only, and expects negative only from its people. It was generated together with the market; and it made people its slaves.
A union of free communities is based on the principle of freedom rather than fear. A lot of people worldwide do realize it; this is why the Republic of Lakotah has so many supporters. If racists want to join us they are welcome to come here and live in a racist community. Freedom implies an opportunity to be an idiot and to live in a community of the likes.
RT: Native Indians aren’t represented in the U.S. Senate, or Congress, or the Supreme Court, are they?
RM: They aren’t, and they haven’t been throughout all these centuries. We intend making the U.S. government liable for the genocide of ethnic Indians. We’re now preparing paperwork to start a case at the International Court in The Hague. We are convinced that many countries will support our cause.
RT: Many journalists paint a picture of your program as a return to wigwams, fires and ritual dances, is it not true?
RM: Some would probably find this picture quite attractive, but this isn’t a possibility. We have to proceed from the reality. By returning our culture we mean using all the opportunities. I’ve traveled to Europe many times, and I’ve learned of various approaches to preserving the national culture. Back in the Soviet times, I visited Hungary, Bulgaria, Poland, and East Germany – everywhere except Russia and the Arctic region. So I can make comparisons between places. The United States doesn’t even have opportunities for culture; it is only focused on money and on those forms of culture that yield money. Any art that sells is the kind of art that generates profit. It’s a terrible fodder turned into a machine for generating profit.
What we see now is the world being Americanized, the profitability principle, expanded. It’s caught up even with Russia which is however trying to resist it. We don’t want to see any further Americanization, but are no revisionists either – we aren’t calling people to going back to the Stone Age, to isolation, to an ethnographic museum type of life. Or to perform paid rituals, a kind of a spiritual prostitution that’s been involving Indians under the pretext that this is our way to preserve our identity by publicly performing our sacred dances.
So they say, if you don’t like Columbus, and progress, and democracy, you should give up using electricity, and computers, and phones. This is exactly what we will do immediately, as soon as those strangers and immigrants get on their boats and go back to their countries.
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