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Background on Western Shoshone issues

History of Western Shoshone Land Rights

Western Shoshone never accepted the cash settlement that in 1979 the Indian Claim’s Commission (ICC) placed in an Interior trust account for lands deemed taken by “gradual encroachment.” Current legislation to force the distribution of this money, an amount set at the 1872 fair market value of 15 cents an acre, threatens Western Shoshone land rights, homelands, and a land base necessary for Newe cultural and economic survival.

Newe Sogobia is not for sale. In the 1863 Treaty of Ruby Valley, the Newe agreed to settle into a lifestyle of ranching and allow white people to pass through Newe lands; but did not cede lands. In the eighties, Western Shoshone ranchers, sisters Carrie and Mary Dann, were charged with trespass for refusing to pay grazing fees to the United States. The issue went through the U.S. court system to the Supreme Court which ruled that the Western Shoshone lands were taken not, as the ICC had determined, by gradual encroachment, but when the ICC placed money in the trust account.

The WSDP and the Indian Law Resource Center work to restore justice within the United Nations and the Organization of American States(OAS). In 2003, the OAS found that the U.S. is using illegitimate means to claim title to Newe Lands.


from Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States