A Tradition of Forgetting Indian Rights

–>Nat Parry's picture

 Making official a quintessential American tradition dating back to the 1621 feast between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag tribe, President Abraham Lincoln in 1863 declared the last Thursday of November to be the national day of Thanksgiving – a vain attempt to unite the North and South at the height of the Civil War.

Five years later, continuing a closely paralleled American tradition, the U.S. government signed the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868, which established the Great Sioux Reservation west of the Missouri River and promised no more white settlement in a huge, 18-million acre swath of land.

Over the next two decades, as Civil War Reconstruction was completed and a nationwide Thanksgiving date was finally agreed upon by Northern and Southern states, the U.S. continuously reneged on the Fort Laramie Treaty, eventually breaking the Great Sioux Reservation up into five smaller reservations: Cheyenne River Reservation, Lower Brule Indian Reservation, Rosebud Indian Reservation, Pine Ridge Reservation, and Standing Rock Reservation.

More than a century later, in 1980, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the government had illegally taken this land, and awarded $120.5 million to the Sioux Nation, based on the market value of the land in 1877, plus interest. For nearly four decades, however, the Lakota Sioux have refused to accept payment and instead continued to demand that the United States return the territory…

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