The Sioux Indians yesterday asked for the return of their "homeland" - the states of North Dakota and South Dakota, Nebraska and parts of Montana and Wyoming.
Russell Means, an Oglala Sioux leader, said at a news conference that the Indians instead would accept $30 billion plus an additional $1,000 for their claim to the lands.
The $30 billion, Means said, Would be compensation for alleged federal violation of the Ft. Laramie Treaty of 1863, violation of the Indians' constitutional rights and for environmental damage.
The additional $1,000, he said, would be for "gross violation of the Ten Commandments."
The demand for the return of the original Sioux homelands in the five states is contained in a petition to be filed with the U.S. Court of Claims by the Indians' lawyer, John E. Thorne. San Jose. Calif., and Vine, Deloria, Golden, Colo. The petition is to be filed as soon as the lawyers are admitted to practice before the court.
The petition charges that the United States has taken Indian lands in violation of the 1868 treaty. To help back up the charges, the petition cites a 1974 award by the Indian Claims Commission of $17.5 million for the Indians' claims to the Black Hills area of South Dakota.
The petition also contends that court rulings upholding federal jurisdiction over individuals charged with crimes in the Wounded Knee. S.D., seizure were violations of the Indians' threaty rights.
Means, a key Indian leader at Wounded Knee, said the Sioux were approaching the U.S. government for "one last time" in filing the suit with the court of Claims.
If the suit fails, Means said, the Indians have three alternatives.
One, he said, is "to roll over and let them . . . stomp us until we're extinct." The second is to take the case to the United Nations.
"The third is to stand up on our hind legs and act like human beings and go to war- which would be a futile war," Means said.
A key objective of the suit, Means said, is to halt further development of Missouri River water resources and the strip-mining of taconite in the Black Hills.
He said the water development and the strip-mining would be "genocide" because the resultant pollution might sholen the 47-year life expectancy of Indians in the area by 20 years.
Brent Blackwelder, Washington representative of the Environmental Policy Center, backed the Indians' charges that the federal government was responsible for environmental damage in the area.
Blackwelder said federal construction of dams on the main stem of the Missouri and other developments were a "form of colonialism" and would be "devastating" to both the Indian and white populations of the area.