Mr. LaBatte talks about the treaties made between the Dakota and U.S. government.
The way it was written, the government never intended to pay us the full amount
DL: What do you think about the treaties?
WL: Now we hang on to them as our lifeline but at the time it was a terrible deal we got. If you ever study the consequences of them, you know we sold all this land for X-amount of dollars per acre. The way it was written, the government never intended to pay us the full amount. They would pay us interest for 50 years. “You sold it for six million dollars”, they said, “We’ll pay you the interest for 50 years.” That’s just the interest. They never even planned on paying the principle. Wow, we really got screwed there. That’s the stuff that I was talking about that made me angry. But also in those treaties they said, “We’ll entice them. I mean we know they are getting screwed but we’ll entice them. We’ll educate your children and we’ll give you health care.” Well, that’s the basics. Some idiot on TV was disparaging the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Well, there’s no Bureau of Black Affairs or Bureau of Spanish Affairs. So he made it sound like them damn Indians are getting special privileges again. It goes back to treaties. That’s what we’re holding on to. Even though at the time they were terrible, now we’ve got something that binds the government. They don’t fund anything the way they are supposed to. They don’t fund our Indian healthcare like they are supposed to. The education, when I went to school it was good. I mean I got a lot money to go to school but nowadays it seems like its kind of hard. There were things in there that bound the government to pay. I’m sure the government wished, “Gee, wish our ancestors wouldn’t have promised them that.” [Laughter]