This West Is OUR West

"Sovereign Indian Reservations" and the Standing Rock Sioux

Interesting and informative comment received from a reader regarding “Sovereign Indian Reservations” (following a posting) and the Standing Rock Sioux.

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Concerning the part on "Sovereign Indian Reservations..." I could conclude with a simple comment. There is nothing "sovereign" about an Indian reservation. But I won't leave it at that. The treaties themselves tell us all about the lack of sovereignty of the reservation. Reading them, we find that a "reservation" is simply a section of government ownership claimed land set aside for the conditional use and occupancy of the Indigenous People as wards dependent upon the national government. They source from Temporary Territorial State days following the 1780 Resolution on the Western Lands and the guarantee proposed therein. That guarantee purchased by the original states became fundamental law of the Articles of Confederation as necessary for making the Articles of Confederation a constitution for the original states, and added the US Constitution Article VI, first paragraph "debts and engagements." That guarantee coupled in with the 1785 Land Survey Ordinance and the 1787 Northwest Ordinance setting up temporary territorial states. The cessions of land began with New York's March 1781 cession of claim for Ohio and ended with Virginia's 1865 and 1871 cessions concerning West Virginia.


The Indian Reservations: as with the reservations of national forests and parks related, along with the other Department of Interior holding were supposed to end with the admission of the new state allowing the 1785 Township plan to take over the territorial plan for "Primary Disposal." It is with these Acts of Congress, beginning by altering the plan with the Organic Act of admitting the state of Oregon where the national government, and all of its public lands Acts made into law fail the Article VI test of allowable government. And that test is where our national government began to transition into tyranny.


The following is from one of the many treaties entered into with the Sioux


Standing Rock Sioux

Quoting article

“Opponents of the pipeline over the weekend set up camp on private land owned by Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners, which is working to complete the 1,200-mile pipeline to carry oil from western North Dakota to Illinois. The route skirts the Standing Rock Reservation and the tribe says it could endanger water supplies and disturb cultural sites.” End quote


So we see that a survey was made for a pipeline right of way which created an easement for sale to Energy Transfer Partners. That makes the easement private property in the eyes of government. So we need to look for the authority of government to take these steps. As we look we will find government relying on the ‘treaty’ made with the tribe at:  .


First we view the list of names shown on the treaty at the end in tribe sections at “Executed on the part of the Yanctonais band of Sioux by the chiefs and headmen whose names are hereto subscribed, they being thereunto duly authorized,” and for the Hunkpapa Lakota Souix in its own section. So we find the tribes agreeing to the treaty. But what did they agree to?


Article 2: An established reservation “…all existing reservations on the east bank of said river shall be, and the same is, set apart for the absolute and undisturbed use and occupation of the Indians herein named,…”


Article 11. “In consideration of the advantages and benefits conferred by this treaty, and the many pledges of friendship by the United States, the tribes who are parties to this agreement hereby stipulate that they will relinquish all right to occupy permanently the territory outside their reservation as herein defined, but yet reserve the right to hunt on any lands north of North Platte, and on the Republican Fork of the Smoky Hill River, so long as the buffalo may range thereon in such numbers as to justify the chase. And they, the said Indians, further expressly agree:

1st. That they will withdraw all opposition to the construction of the railroads now being built on the plains.

2d. That they will permit the peaceful construction of any railroad not passing over their reservation as herein defined.

3d. That they will not attack any persons at home, or traveling, nor molest or disturb any wagon-trains, coaches, mules, or cattle belonging to the people of the United States, or to persons friendly therewith.

4th. They will never capture, or carry off from the settlements, white women or children.

5th. They will never kill or scalp white men, nor attempt to do them harm.

6th. They withdraw all pretense of opposition to the construction of the railroad now being built along the Platte River and westward to the Pacific Ocean, and they will not in future object to the construction of railroads, wagon-roads, mail-stations, or other works of utility or necessity, which may be ordered or permitted by the laws of the United States. But should such roads or other works be constructed on the lands of their reservation, the Government will pay the tribe whatever amount of damage may be assessed by three disinterested commissioners to be appointed by the President for that purpose, one of said commissioners to be a chief or head-man of the tribe.

7th. They agree to withdraw all opposition to the military posts or roads now established south of the North Platte River, or that may be established, not in violation of treaties heretofore made or hereafter to be made with any of the Indian tribes.”


So you see, the tribes gave up their ancestral lands by treaty for the sake of building a nation, and under a national law made in accordance with the “Land Resolution on Western Lands of 1780.” And in doing so the tribes were paid certain provision and certain structure was created for organizing the reservation. A reservation is land owned by a claimant and set aside for a specified use. In this case, for the use of the tribes. But, the reservation treaty does not transfer title to an Indian nation, tribe or individual. In addition, the treaty does not prevent any part of the reservation land from being sold by the government, nor purchased by an American Indian individual.


In addition, Article 11 retains for the government item 1 to 7 above. In addition, these railroads are on lands surveyed into right of ways and easements made for sale to the railroad company. Having reserved the right to survey for easements, allows government to survey for any purpose it desires including pipelines.


Is any of this right in terms of a genuine treaty, agreement or outcome for the Indigenous People? The answer is a simple and loud NO! A pretense of ownership was allowed on lands set aside merely as permissions for use and occupation. The question then becomes a question of fair and equitable trade. Is having a privilege of use the same as the right of ownership? The answer is no. The tribes were made wards of the government subject to the rules made by an appointed agency, rules made by the Indian agency, the departments in the Interior Department of the United States, the Secretary of Interior, and the President of the United States. And all of that for the lack of a national law calling for a Quitclaim land transfer deed followed by a national and state law providing for a Warranty Deed of tribal ownership of the lands set aside as reservations. BTW, that warranty deed comes from the guarantee purchased by the original states made in the 1780 Land Resolution which was made a part of the US Constitution in the first part of Article VI, first paragraph “engagement”.


David Lyons