2008 – The Fish-In
Lakotah Plan Civil Disobedience Fishing Event for Memorial Day
In the tradition of Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Russell Means, the Chief Facilitator of the Republic of Lakotah, is organizing a group of Lakotah Indians to enter Angostura Recreation Area near Hot Springs, South Dakota, refuse to pay the admission fee, and fish without paying the license fee. Means claims that Lakotah retained the right to fish and pass in the 1851 Fort Laramie Treaty territory and that those rights continue today.
The event, which is being billed as the Lakotah Freedom Fishing Day, is about much more than the three dollar admission fee or the seven dollar fishing license fee; it is about getting the South Dakota and United States governments to follow their own laws. Means, who has been called the Nelson Mandella of the Indian People, said, “After having been an occupied nation for over 150 years, we have asked the United States government to leave our country. Meanwhile, until the United States Government leaves Lakotah territory we will take every opportunity to insist it follow its own laws and that its states do the same.”
Lakotah have given notice to Larry Long, the Attorney General of South Dakota, of its plans for this event. Means said he has not heard from Long yet and does not know if the state plans on allowing the Indians to fish and pass or if the park rangers will issue citations or arrest any of the Lakotah fishermen. Means plans to call in federal marshals to enforce the treaty rights. Means said, “According to the Civil Right Act, federal marshals should arrest any state official who tries to stop Lakotah from entering the park and fishing. However, if the United States ignores its own laws to deny Lakotah rights, it will certainly not be the first time.”
This historic event is planned for Memorial Day, Monday, May 26th, at 10:00 am. Lakotah will enter the park at the north entrance and fish at the north fishing dock.
Notice of Intent to Enter Park and Fish
Dear Mr. Long,
The Republic of Lakotah is planning a “Lakotah Freedom Fishing Day” on Monday, May 26, 2008, Memorial Day, at Angostura Recreation Area in Hot Springs. I am giving you advance notice of this event so that you will have sufficient time to do your legal research and, ideally, you and I can come to an understanding that will work best for everybody.
As you may know, all members of the tribes to the 1851 Fort Laramie Treaty have the right to fish within the 1851 Treaty territory (which includes all of South Dakota west of the Missouri River). The relevant language from Article 5 of the 1851 Treaty reads:
“It is, however, understood that, in making this recognition and acknowledgment, the aforesaid Indian nations … do not surrender the privilege of hunting, fishing, or passing over any of the tracts of country heretofore described.”
Some may assert that the 1851 Treaty was superseded by the 1868 Treaty. They are mistaken. Article 17 the 1868 Treaty states:
“It is hereby expressly understood and agreed by and between the respective parties to this treaty that the execution of this treaty and its ratification by the United States Senate shall have the effect, and shall be construed as abrogating and annulling all treaties and agreements heretofore entered into between the respective parties hereto, so far as such treaties and agreements obligate the United States to furnish and provide money, clothing, or other articles of property to such Indians and bands of Indians as become parties to this treaty, but no further.”
Accordingly, under the treaties, Lakotah, and all Indians in tribes of the 1851 Treaty have the right to:
Enter the park with no fee, and Fish with no license.
United States v. Winans, 198 US 371 (1905), and Tulee v. Washington, 315 U.S. 681 (1942), are two of the many cases which support this right to fish.
If you are considering countering by contending that, since Lakotah has withdrawn from the treaties, that it now has no further treaty rights, we would be glad to join you in that position. However, that would also mean that:
The Indians have the right to enter the park and fish with no interference from your agents; and All agents of the State of South Dakota operating in Republic of Lakotah territory are trespassing. We are planning on inviting the press. Members of the press can either film: Indians being allowed to exercise their rights, or Your agents arresting Indians who are exercising their rights, followed by federal marshals arresting your agents for violating those rights.
Also, if you do not instruct your agents to permit the entrance and fishing, there will be more press coverage when we sue your agents under 42 U.S.C.