In 1874 George Armstrong Custer held an incursion into the region's Black Hills and found gold. The Gold Rush was on and there was no way to stop it.
The professor asserted that the public does not perceive the historical case of Louisiana Purchase, which saw the territory which is now the Dakotas bought by the US government, correctly. The deal was "to acquire all of that property to the exclusion of any other Christian nation and ways to acquire it were to buy it or by conquest. Both were lawful at the time. But [Thomas Jefferson] didn't buy the property; he bought the right to acquire the property," he explained.
"Only the US can acquire the land from the Indians, only the federal government can act for the US. So the only place a state can appear in a land title is under the federal government. If you wipe out the federal government's land title […] it doesn't become the state's land, it becomes the tribe's land," Russell stated.
He said, "The feds are supposed to look out for our rights, well, that's not happening up there right now."
As Becker put it, what is key is not the violence of the protestors — it's the violence against them.
"They are there to stop this project they call ‘black snake,'" Russell concluded.