Republic of Lakotah
A group of Native Americans decided to call the place where they live the Republic of Lakotah. This group is called the Lakotah Freedom Delegation. They believe the Republic of Lakotah should be treated as a separate country, but at the moment, no other country in the world agrees that it is.
When white people first came to North America from Europe, the Lakotah people, who are a native tribe, had already been living there for thousands of years. The Lakotah legally had nothing to do with the USA until they made treaties (agreements) with each other in the 1800s.
Since then, the Lakotah people have lived inside the borders of the USA. On December 17, 2007, the Lakotah Freedom Delegation said that Lakotah should become a separate country again, as it was before they made treaties with the USA.
Reasons for wanting independence
In December 2007, the group traveled to Washington, D.C. and spoke to the government. They announced that the Lakotah were withdrawing from the treaties they had with the USA. They said the USA had not been following the treaties and this had been causing problems on Lakotah land.
For example, the USA and the Lakotah made an agreement called the Treaty of Fort Laramie, which meant the Lakotah could keep the Black Hills. The Black Hills is a very sacred and special place for the Lakotah. But the USA broke the agreement and invaded the Black Hills when they found out that gold was buried there. Now the Black Hills is home to the famous mountain carvings of Mount Rushmore.
The group says that the Republic of Lakotah is not a new country, but a country that has just been revived. But some members of the Lakotah tribe complain that they were not told about the plans. Many of the leaders of the Lakotah tribe were not asked beforehand. Traditionally, a vote needs to be held if a treaty is going to be changed, and 75% of Lakotah males need to vote in favor of the change. But a vote was not held when the plans for the Republic of Lakotah were being made.
The group argues that Lakotah is allowed to be its own country, by law. They use the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, Article Six of the United States Constitution and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to back up their plans.
Anyone is allowed to be a citizen of the Republic of Lakotah as long as they give up their citizenship of the United States. The group plans to make its own passports and driving licenses.
The government will be run in the traditional Lakotah way. The elderly people, who receive a lot of respect in Lakotah tradition, will choose leaders to run the country.
At the moment, supporters of the Lakotah Freedom Delegation are arguing over the name of the country. Some people like the name Republic of Lakotah, but others prefer Lakotah Oyate. Oyate is the Lakotah word meaning "nation".
A place does not exist as a country until other countries in the world recognise its borders or its government, and treat it as a separate country. The Lakotah Freedom Delegation has contacted the embassies of Venezuela, Bolivia, Chile and South Africa, asking to be recognised as an independent country. The group has also mentioned Russia, Finland and Iceland, and said that Ireland and East Timor are interested in the plans. But at the moment, no other country in the world is treating Lakotah as a separate country.
The US government is unlikely to support the Republic of Lakotah because it means the USA will lose some land. They've said that the group's plans do not mean anything.