No distribution of monies
has occurred as of August 24th, 2009. Please see recent filing
with the United Nations Committee for the Elimination of Racial
Discrimination in “Legal Struggles” for more information.
Threat of Western Shoshone
Distribution Bill Looms Large
Western Shoshone appeal for United Nations intervention
© Indian Country Today August 19, 2005. All Rights Reserved
- In an urgent appeal to halt the assault on ancestral lands, the
Western Shoshone Nation filed an urgent action request before the
United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in
The request challenges the U.S. government's assertion of federal ownership of nearly 90 percent of Western Shoshone lands.
Joe Kennedy, Western Shoshone, was among those urging immediate action
to halt the United States and gold and energy corporations.
''Our traditional laws tell us we were placed here as
caretakers of the land,'' Kennedy said. ''As part of the Western
Shoshone Nation, we will not stand idly by and allow the U.S. federal
government to cement its hold on our ancestral land base.''
The Western Shoshone land base covers approximately 60 million
acres, stretching across what is now referred to as the states of
Nevada, Idaho, Utah and California. The lands include the proposed
Yucca Mountain high-level nuclear waste facility and lands targeted for
expanded gold extraction.
''Western Shoshone rights to the land - which they continue to
use, care for and occupy today - are recognized by a ratified treaty
with the United States,'' said the Western Shoshone delegation in
Geneva, Aug. 8 - 19.
In its 2005 CERD written request, the Western Shoshone seek a
halt to all further U.S. actions against Western Shoshone and the
expansion of any extractive or other activities permitted by the United
Western Shoshone said the United States has conducted numerous
military-style seizures of Western Shoshone livestock, has transferred
alleged Western Shoshone trespass fines to the Internal Revenue Service
and private collection agencies, and has reinvigorated federal efforts
to open a nationwide nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain.
''In 2003, the U.S. Congress passed legislation allowing for
distribution of a highly controversial Indian Claims Commission award
for [the] alleged extinguishment of Western Shoshone land.
''Since that legislation was passed, efforts to privatize
Western Shoshone lands for transfer to multinational extractive
industries and energy developers have been intensified,'' the
Western Shoshone asserted that these actions, justified by
racially discriminatory legal doctrines enshrined in the domestic law
of the United States, demonstrate a serious, massive and persistent
pattern of racial discrimination against the Western Shoshone Nation
and its people in accordance with CERD urgent action and early warning
The U.N. committee established the early warning/urgent action
procedures in 1993 in order to act quickly in preventing the further
escalation of human rights abuses.
Western Shoshone have also raised concerns before the U.N. Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights.
''The role of non-state actors, or multinational corporations,
in the ongoing human rights violations against indigenous peoples is
also being addressed by the delegation in response to the influential
posture of the gold companies and the energy industry under the current
administration,'' Western Shoshone said.
Previously, CERD expressed concern about the ongoing struggle
of the Western Shoshone people and the continued violation of
indigenous human rights in the United States.
In 2001, the committee questioned the United States' continued
application of the ''doctrine of discovery,'' a racially based legal
fiction that was used to justify the genocide of Indian peoples and the
taking of their lands due to their ''inferior'' status as
The committee also questioned the U.S. delegation about why
domestic law allowed the U.S. government to unilaterally abrogate
Indian treaties, to which the United States never provided an answer.
Western Shoshone said the situation has become even graver.
CERD is slated to meet with U.S. government representatives in August to hear the government's response.
Please visit the Indian Country Today website for more articles related to this topic.
Bush signs Western Shoshone legislation
Tribal leaders views bill as massive land fraud
Posted: July 09, 2004
by: Jerry Reynolds / Washington D.C. correspondent / Indian Country
WASHINGTON - One of the largest ongoing seizures of Indian
land in modern times will move forward following President George
W. Bush’s signing of the Western Shoshone Distribution Bill on July
Under provisions of the bill, Western Shoshone claims to 24 million
acres of land in Nevada, Utah, California and Idaho, based on the
Ruby Valley Treaty of 1863, are officially subsumed through payment
by the U.S. government. The bill will forcibly distribute approximately
$145 million in funds awarded the tribe by the Indian Land Claims
Commission. Most of it will go to 6,000 or so eligible tribal members,
with a separate revenue stream set aside for educational purposes.
The commission acted on findings that following the Ruby Valley
Treaty, which permitted non-Indian miners access to the tribal lands,
a "gradual encroachment" took place that supposedly nullified the
treaty. According to the government the "gradual encroachment" theory
obviated any need for official cession of land by sovereign Western
Shoshone governments, a sticking point to this day with foes of
the funds distribution.
The commission based its original $27 million award (enacted by
its successor organization, U.S. Court of Federal Claims) on land
valuation in effect in 1872 - 15 cents an acre, with no interest
on the loss over time.
Because acceptance of the award would create the perception that
any claims to their land have been relinquished, the majority of
Western Shoshone governments have steadfastly refused the money.
Despite the July 7 signing, several Western Shoshone tribes and
tribal members said they will continue to rely on the Ruby Valley
Treaty to press their land claims.
This has never been easy for them. Another sticking point in the
process of seizure has been a court ruling that the tribe could
not litigate the award once its trustee, the Interior Department,
accepted receipt of it.
Although tribal sovereignty is not vested in individuals but in
tribes, Congress has relied on individual votes, cast in rather
stage-managed proceedings, to determine that a "majority" of Western
Shoshone tribal members favor distribution of funds and the resulting
extinction of their land claims. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., and his
Republican ally in the House of Representatives, fellow Nevadan
James Gibbons, persuaded their colleagues to pass the embattled
bill mainly on the strength of vote tallies in proceedings that
had no official sanctioning process across all the Western Shoshone
tribes, but concentrated on Nevada tribes.
The Ruby Valley Treaty lands are rich in resources, including
gold, water and geothermal energy. Multinational mining companies
are standing by to operate within the Ruby Valley lands through
"privatization" bills brought forward by Gibbons. Gibbons and Reid
are among Congress’ leading recipients of mining company contributions.
In addition, President Bush has designated Yucca Mountain, a site
within the Ruby Valley lands, as the nation’s nuclear waste repository.
In a statement of dissenting views attached to the distribution
bill, signed by six members of the House, the claim continues to
be made that no proof has been provided of Bush administration claims
that a "vast majority" of Western Shoshone favor distribution of
In any case, sovereignty is vested in tribal government, not individuals.
According to the bill’s more vocal Western Shoshone opponents, the
one former Western Shoshone tribal governmental leader who had testified
in behalf of distribution did so over the opposition of a majority
of his council, which passed a resolution refuting his testimony.
A "Western Shoshone Claims Steering Committee," heavily relied on
by Reid and Gibbons in producing a show of tribal support for distribution,
has all the appearance of a shadow government, having been declared
null and void by a resolution of the recognized government - all
this again now part of recent historical record.
Western Shoshone governing bodies have passed at least eight resolutions
against distribution: the Te-Moak Tribe of Western Shoshone in 2004,
Battle Mountain Indian Colony in 2002, South Fork Band Indian Reservation
in 2003, Wells Band Council Te-Moak Tribe of Western Shoshone in
2002, Yomba Shoshone Tribe in 2003, Winnemucca Indian Colony in
2003, and Elko Band Council, which passed two in 2004.
The distribution will take place in defiance of at least these
eight resolutions among the Western Shoshone. The National Congress
of American Indians, the Organization of American States, and the
United Nations have also weighed in against the distribution.
Western Shoshone resistance will clearly continue. "It’s not over,"
said Mary Gibson, a tribal member. "We still exist and we still
have our rights to our land. It makes me sad and angry that myths
continue to cloud the truth in this country. This struggle isn’t
a Shoshone versus Shoshone battle, the underlying issue here is
the U.S. responsibility and accountability for a treaty with the
Western Shoshone Nation. As long as the people in the U.S. allow
this to happen it will continue to happen."
Raymond Yowell, of the Western Shoshone National Council, described
himself as "utterly disappointed. It’s unbelievable that the U.S.
body that makes the laws has acted in this manner. The fight is
not over. A fraud is a fraud - individuals cannot sell out a nation
and the bill, although a threat politically, does nothing to change
our inherent rights or our treaty rights. Congress and the President
were informed of all the facts that touch upon this issue. We will
use the Treaty of Ruby Valley to stop Yucca Mountain and to protect
our lands. Our title is still intact.
"The self-described, private group who pushed for this money are
not members of any federally recognized council and have no authority
to speak on behalf of our tribe or the Western Shoshone Nation.
The Nevada legislators and the Bush administration have been well-advised
of this fact. The way this legislation was handled makes an absolute
sham of the stated government-to-government relationship and responsibility
of the U.S. government."
Hugh Stevens, chairman of the Te-Moak Tribe of the Western Shoshone
Nation, added, "Senator Reid has made numerous public commitments
regarding resolving land issues for our communities. We will be
looking for him to stand by that commitment in an expeditious fashion."
However, a press officer in Reid’s office, Tessa Hafen, said the
senator struck no "deal" in the distribution bill that would permit
tribes to retain or regain parcels of land for themselves within
the Ruby Valley Treaty regions. Proposals to that effect have come
from Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., in the House. Hafen said the senator
has always hoped to work realistically with Western Shoshone tribes
on their land claims. "It’s always been part of his long-term strategy,"
she added, then noted that "strategy" is perhaps too strong a word
He has always hoped to work with Western Shoshone tribes on land
issues, she concluded. "The problem is no one has ever come to him."
©2004 Indian Country Today
Native News Online a Service of Barefoot Connection
List info at: http://nativenewsonline.org/natnews.htm
From: Senior Staff firstname.lastname@example.org
Reprinted under the Fair Use http://nativenewsonline.org/fairuse.htm
from Carrie Dann
FYI. Recent Article on Western Shoshone Distribution. Interesting
that the money is now being directly linked to the land and not
damages . . A little late.
Thursday, July 08, 2004
Copyright © Las Vegas Review-Journal
WESTERN SHOSHONE: Law frees funds for Indian lands
Some vow to reject share of 1979 settlement for $145
By SAMANTHA YOUNG
STEPHENS WASHINGTON BUREAU
WASHINGTON -- President Bush on Wednesday enacted a law clearing
the way for Western Shoshone Indians to receive thousands of dollars
apiece in compensation for tribal land taken away since the 1800s.
Some Western Shoshone immediately vowed not to accept any money,
saying the government swindled the tribe out of 60 million acres
across four states that no compensation can heal.
"I'm not going to sell my dignity, my spirituality, my culture.
No way," said Carrie Dann, a rancher from Crescent Valley.
She is a leader among self-described "traditional" tribal members
who opposed a financial settlement.
A bill Bush signed into law unlocks $145 million in settlement
funds that have been accumulating interest in a federal trust fund
Individual payments would depend on how many Indians qualify for
the settlement, with estimates ranging from $15,000 to $30,000 per
Most Western Shoshone are expected to accept the payments, according
to some tribal leaders.
"This is what our people want, what they have been striving for
a long time," said Ely Shoshone chairwoman Diana Buchner. "It's
going to be closure for a lot of people."
Nedra Darling, a spokeswoman for the Bureau of Indian Affairs,
could not say how long it will take tribal members to collect their
checks following a lengthy process to form official tribal rolls
and determine eligibility.
"It's not going to happen overnight," Darling said. "It's going
to take a while."
Rep. Jim Gibbons, R-Nev., and Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., sponsored
the settlement bill. They issued statements saying its enactment
brings to an end years of delay in distributing settlement funds.
But opponents contend Western Shoshone were shortchanged billions
of dollars, both in land prices and mineral rights.
Congress allocated $26.1 million to the Western Shoshone in 1979
at the direction of the Indian Claims Commission, which had concluded
the tribes should be compensated for land and resources lost because
of "gradual encroachment." The tribes were given an 1872 price for
their land and minerals, about 15 cents an acre.
Dann said tribal factions will continue to pursue title to more
than 60 million acres of traditional Western Shoshone land in Nevada,
California, Utah and Idaho. A lawsuit is ongoing in U.S. District
Court in Washington, D.C.
Western Shoshone National Council chief Raymond Yowell and Yomba
Shoshone chairman Jerril Johns said they also will refuse to take
Yowell said the new law is illegitimate because Congress relied
on a straw poll of Western Shoshone that has yet to be certified
by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
"What this bill does is give them an out," Yowell said of the
U.S. government. "Now they can say that they paid the Shoshone for
their land. I can not be a part of it."
New Mexico attorney Tom Leubben, who represents the Yomba tribe,
questioned whether Congress had superseded its authority in dividing
Western Shoshone funds among individual Indians.
"I think there's a legal issue which is whether Congress has the
constitutional right to individualize Western Shoshone assets without
Western Shoshone tribal concurrence and liquidate the Shoshone land
base and distribute its assets," Leubben said.
Yomba chairman Johns could not say whether his tribe would pursue
"That's up to the council," he said.
Reid spokeswoman Tessa Hafen said the fund would be divided among
Western Shoshone who qualify and choose to accept the payment.
Now that Bush has signed the bill, 10 days after the Senate approved
the measure, Interior Secretary Gale Norton is charged with establishing
a roll of eligible Western Shoshone.
Individual Indians who are at least one quarter Western Shoshone,
a U.S. citizen and living as of Wednesday are eligible for a part
of the $145 million pot. Any Indians who have received another tribal
settlement would not qualify.
Darling said as many as 10,000 Western Shoshone could qualify
for the settlement.
By law, the agency will consult with Western Shoshone in developing
regulations governing the distribution. The regulations also will
be submitted for public comment, she said.
Reid and Gibbons have maintained the settlement will not prevent
tribes from pursuing separate land claims, a point some Western
Shoshone have disputed.
Reid said in a statement he is working with tribes in Nevada to
"support housing, agricultural, and economic development initiatives."
Find this article at:
07 Jul 2004
Bush Signs Western Shoshone Bill
from Carrie Dann
President signed the Western Shoshone Distribution Bill this
morning. Western Shoshone position remains unchanged Payment does not
Defense Project, 775-468-0230, www.wsdp.org
Press Release For Immediate Release
Iraq George Bush, President of the United States, Congress Passes Bill
to Force Payment on Western Shoshone Land Struggle -- A Sad Day for the
Rule of Law in the United States, but the Fight s not Over Say the
July 7, 2004. Crescent Valley, NV. In spite of heavy opposition from
the Western Shoshone Nation, this morning, the Western Shoshone
Distribution Bill was signed into law by George W. Bush, President of
the United States. The bill would authorize an alleged payoff of
approximately 15 cents an acres for tens of millions of acres of
disputed lands in Nevada, Idaho, Utah and California. A majority of
tribal councils, representing approximately 80% of the population, the
Western Shoshone National Council and all the traditional people
strongly oppose the bill, they are supported by the National Congress
of American Indians and Amnesty International. This formal opposition
was apparently ignored however and an undocumented, unverified straw
poll was used instead by the Bush Administration and Nevada legislators
to justify the legislation.
White House staffer Jennifer Farley, Deputy Associate
Director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs,
informed one Shoshone Tribal Chairman that the bill was red hot . The
significance of the issue to the White House is apparent: Copies of
Assistant Secretary of Interior Stephen J. Griles calendars reflect
meetings with Interior Department legal staff, including Bush s Ninth
Circuit Court of Appeals nominee, William Myers, regarding Western
Shoshone Trespass (Dann Sisters) just six months before the Department
of Interior started military-style seizures of livestock owned by
Western Shoshone traditionalists, including grandmothers Mary and
The land base at issue is the third largest gold producing
area in the world and cited by a 1999 Interior report as the number one
investment opportunity for extraction companies. It is also the site
where the nation s nuclear waste repository would be located, Yucca
Mountain, and the home to the Nevada Test Site and Federal
Counterterrorism Facility where the Bush Administration has talked of
reopening nuclear testing. Both Bush and his political advisor Karl
Rove, have made personal visits to Nevada in the last thirty days.
I am utterly disappointed. It s unbelievable that the U.S.
body that makes the laws has acted in this manner. The fight is not
over. A fraud is a fraud - Individuals cannot sell out a nation and the
bill, although a threat politically, does nothing to change our
inherent rights or our Treaty rights. Congress and the President were
informed of all the facts that touch upon this issue. We will use the
Treaty of Ruby Valley to stop Yucca Mountain and to protect our lands.
Our title is still intact. Stated Raymond Yowell, Western Shoshone
The self-described, private group who pushed for this money are not
members of any federally-recognized council and have no authority to
speak on behalf of our Tribe or the Western Shoshone Nation. The Nevada
legislators and the Bush Administration have been well-advised of this
fact. The way this legislation was handled makes an absolute sham of
the stated government to government relationship and responsibility of
the U.S. government. Stated Hugh Stevens, Chairman of the Te-Moak Tribe
of the Western Shoshone Nation. Senator Reid has made numerous public
commitments regarding resolving land issues for our communities. We
will be looking for him to stand by that commitment in an expeditious
fashion. We demand that our land issues be resolved in good faith in
the same hot line fashion as the distribution. He added.
Mary Gibson, Western Shoshone states: It s not over, we still
exist and we still have our rights to our land. It makes me sad and
angry that myths continue to cloud the Truth in this country. This
struggle isn t a Shoshone v. Shoshone battle, the underlying issue here
is the U.S. responsibility and accountability for a Treaty with the
Western Shoshone Nation. As long as the people in the U.S. allow this
to happen it will continue to happen.
For additional info, contact the Western Shoshone Defense Project at 775-468-0230.
Send by email@example.com
UPDATE - Action Alert June
Western Shoshone “Distribution” Bill
House passes Bill in expedited vote despite NCAI Resolution and
Western Shoshone Opposition
In a behind the scenes, completely un-democratic and purely political
maneuver, the Western Shoshone Distribution Bill (S 618/HR 884)
was passed by a voice vote several hours before the scheduled vote
on Monday, June 21, 2004. Because of the death of the Senate bill
on June 1, the next step will be for the vote to move back through
the Senate and then on to the President.
The bill was passed based on an illegitimate “vote” claiming to
represent Western Shoshone people, despite the fact that the Western
Shoshone National Council, a majority of the democratically-elected
Tribal Councils representing over 70% of the population, and all
of the traditional Western Shoshone strongly oppose the bill. In
addition, the National Congress of American Indians, the largest
umbrella organization of Native American Tribes in the U.S. passed
a resolution on Monday opposing the bill as a threat to Native American
sovereignty and equal protection of the laws.
Do we live in a country of lawless ness and corporate corruption
or do we still believe in a Congress and elected officials who reflect
fairness and legality of process? This bill, the Western Shoshone
Distribution Bill, may well be the test case of our time.
For further information, please see www.wsdp.org or call 775-468-0230.
WHAT TO DO to express your concerns:
Democratic National Committee - 202-863-8000 (Why isn’t this a national
Republican National Committee - 202-863-8500 (Why isn’t this a national
Contact your Senator – Or Senators who claim to uphold Human Rights
and Rule of Law
Contact the White House and anyone else you may think could be persuasive
in this issue.
The Western Shoshone Distribution Bill - S 618/H.R. 884
Following are samples of some of the statements, letters and list
serve communications being sent by Western Shoshone and supporters.
Statement by Western Shoshone:
Western Shoshone Land– “Silence is Golden if You Could Mine
Your Own Business, As It Is Stated in Nevada”.
Statement by Larson R. Bill (Western Shoshone), June 1, 2004.
I always thought Nevada was the Silver State, all of a sudden
it’s gold. The Western Shoshone Distribution Bill, S 618/HR 884
sure looks like hush money to me and other Western Shoshone. Why
the push to pay us off? How much is it worth to a couple of senior
congressmen and their corporate constituents to buy us off? How
much is it worth to buy off or hush up constitutionally protected
rights? Your guess is as good as ours – A few things we do know
– and they all relate to money, lots of money – except when it comes
to the Western Shoshone:
THE WESTERN SHOSHONE: The Western Shoshone people (“Newe”)
have lived on this land for thousands of years – our creation stories
stem from the mountains where our ancestors lay buried. The waters,
the plants, the other living beings and the earth itself all hold
special meaning to us. The Distribution bill would pay approximately
15 cents an acre for land that was never agreed for sale, with no
hearing and no public purpose.
GOLD: Western Shoshone lands are the 3rd largest gold
producing area in the world, behind only South Africa and Australia
– One mountain alone, Mt. Tenabo, which Congressman Gibbons has
slated for a privatization scheme (HR 2869) to Placer Dome (5th
largest gold company in the world) has estimated revenues of $7-8
billion. In mining contributions received in the 2004 cycle, Congressman
Gibbons comes in 2nd in the House with Reid as the 4th highest recipient
in the Senate. Other multinationals mining in our area include Barrick,
Kennecott, Newmont and Marigold.
WATER: Western Shoshone lands have been cited as sitting
atop a subterranean sea with vast quantities of drinking quality
fossil waters. Example: Dewatering processes by several of the gold
mines pump drinking water quality water 24 hours a day, 7 days a
week at levels from 20 to 70 thousand gallons/minute. Vidler Water,
a subsidiary of PECO Holding Corp., is in the area and initiating
discussions with County and State officials regarding water privatization
ENERGY: Western Shoshone hot springs are cited to be the
next “Saudi Arabia” of geothermal energy production by Senator Harry
Reid. Congressman Gibbons’ bill, HR 2772, would open up our area
to massive geothermal production with preliminary subsidies for
the energy industry and the option to convert energy leases into
mineral claims through the “back door”.
NUCLEAR WASTE: Western Shoshone lands contain Yucca Mountain,
cited home for the nation’s nuclear waste repository. The construction
contract for the waste repository was awarded to Bechtel Corporation
at $1.2 billion.
NUCLEAR WEAPONS/MILITARY: Western Shoshone lands are home
to the Nevada Test Site and the Federal Counterterrorism facility,
both managed through Bechtel, SAIC and Lockheed Martin. The management
contracts amount to billions of dollars on a several year renewal
basis. The Bush administration has talked of reopening nuclear testing
at the site.
A fair deal? We don’t think so – and neither should you. Mother
Earth is not expendable, except only in the mind of a diseased man.
Stop the Western Shoshone Distribution Bill (S 618/HR 884) and stop
abuse of our lands, resources and beliefs. We’ve been in this struggle
for a long time now and it’s about time the U.S. gets back to reality
and deals with this issue in a good way rather than continuing all
this terrorism against the vanishing race of the original people
of this Nation.
List Serve Communication:
Those of you with eyes to see and ears to hear,
I am forwarding an action alert …. asking for people to contact
their representatives and oppose the Western Shoshone Distribution
Bill to be voted on by the House of Representatives this Tuesday
(June 1). Please read the action alert to learn the specifics.
Based on my understanding, this appears to me to be yet another
case where the US government is unilaterally ending a treaty agreement
with an Indian Nation without tribal consent. In a conversation
with someone about this the other day they cynically asked:
"Yeah, but what do you expect? When has the US government ever
honored treaties with the Indians?"
My reply to his question:
They've never honored the treaties. And I expect more from my
government. I, for one, honor treaties and I will raise the one
empowered voice I have to appeal to those who represent me in government
to do the same. Those who opposed slavery expected more, those who
professed that separate was not equal expected more--because those
practices were based on racial discrimination. So is the US practice
of not honoring treaties made with Indian nations. We must expect
more from our government than that.
Thanks to those of you who have already responded to this issue.
I urge the rest of you to do what you can. Even if it is just learning
about the issue yourself and sharing this information with others.
Indigenous Rights Watch
"I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live
out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident:
that all men are created equal."" ~Martin Luther King, Jr.
"When individuals assume responsibility for ensuring each other’s
human rights the foundation for unity will be firmly established.”
~Bahai International Community
Letter from Supporter to their Congressperson:
Oppose the Western Shoshone Distribution Bill, S. 618/HR 884.
Reid, Gibbons, Gale Norton and our "National Interests" have taken
a page from the influential Koch boys of Wichita, who were caught
stealing oil from impoverished tribes in Oklahoma. "We want our
fair share, and that's ALL of it!"
It's 300 year old tradition in government: you sign treaties with
the folks who rightly occupy the territory. Then you do whatever
you please! And laugh all the way to the bank.
The Native American Rights Fund has taken Gale Norton to court
THREE times and WON each time, yet the Interior Department continues
to act illegally...no different from what they're doing with Western
Shoshone. This is not government. This is tyranny masked as politics.
So is passage of HR884, HR 2869, HR2772.
Find the actual documentation for the Interior Dept. testimony
about Western Shoshone disputes, requested by Tom Udall in 2003.
Is he a "dissident" too? Has the truth become a radical act? Stop
the subversion of due process. It would be a refreshing change!
Release: For Immediate Release
Update on Western Shoshone Distribution Bill:
Bill Removed From Congressional Voting Calendar as People Across
the Nation Support Western Shoshone Land Rights - Vigilant Watch
Kept for Reintroduction
Crescent Valley, NV June 2, 2004. In what may be only a day's
reprieve, the Western Shoshone Distribution Bill (S 618/HR 884)
was taken off the Congressional voting calendar late yesterday afternoon
(June 1, 2004). Opponents of the bill, which include both Western
Shoshone and thousands of supporters across the nation, are keeping
a vigilant eye however as Congressman Gibbons' office threatens
rescheduling of the bill as early as today, June 2, 2004. Reports
from legislative staffers reveal that Senator Reid spent the memorial
day holiday "lobbying" House Democrats to support his bill despite
heavy opposition from the Western Shoshone. Members of Congress
received thousands of letters, emails, phone calls and faxes reflecting
a national outcry for a good faith resolution of this decades long
Opposition to a forced payout of the Western Shoshone and support
for governmental accountability is coming from Tribes and Individuals
across Indian Country, native and human rights organizations (including
Amnesty International, Oxfam America and the Petra Foundation) and
thousands of individual American citizens. At stake are tens of
millions of acres of Western Shoshone land, recognized by the 1863
Treaty of Ruby Valley. Competing with Western Shoshone interests
are billions of dollars in gold, energy production and nuclear waste
and weapons industries. Who will prevail in this modern day "manifest
corporate destiny"? The next several weeks may tell all.
"The Public is speaking, secretive actions and legislation based
on misrepresentations to members of Congress will not be tolerated.
The same thing happened in the buildup to the war in Iraq. There
are clear signs to members of Congress that there is something wrong
with this bill. It's the same pattern - who's leading the charge
and who is going to take responsibility? Who gets hurt and for what
purpose? This government must learn from history - if history repeats
itself, it is because the government didn't learn the first tme."
Larson Bill, Western Shoshone.
"I, for one, honor treaties and I will raise the one empowered
voice I have to appeal to those who represent me in government to
do the same. Those who opposed slavery expected more, those who
professed that separate was not equal expected more--because those
practices were based on racial discrimination. So is the US practice
of not honoring treaties made with Indian nations. We must expect
more from our government than that." Keli Lovejoy, Indigenous Rights
For more information: Contact Western Shoshone Defense Project
at 775-468-0230, www.wsdp.org or http://www.westernshoshone.com/
Again, WHAT TO DO:
Go to http://www.peaceforallnations.com/wsdpNOW.htm
Contact your local media and the media you listen to - they
should be covering this! Especially shows like Democracy Now!
With Amy Goodman, NPR, etc.
Send the alert and the press release to your lists of friends
and supporters - this should be a national movement to stop
abuses against the native peoples of the United States. Get
your organization(s) involved in this issue!
Contact your local Representatives (House number: 202-224-3121),
www.house.gov and the following:
Speaker of the House: J. Dennis Hastert - 202-225-0600
Majority Leader: Tom DeLay - 202-225-4000
Democratic National Committee - 202-863-8000 (Why isn't this
a national campaign issue?)
Republican National Committee - 202-863-8500 (Why isn't this
a national campaign issue?)
Congresswoman Shelley Berkley
439 Cannon HOB
Washington, DC 20515
(Nevada Congressional Representative who has not yet
supported or opposed the bill - but does oppose Yucca
Mountain. Her opposition to the bill would add tremendous
Congressman Dennis J. Kucinich
Progressive Caucus Chair
1730 Longworth HOB
Washington, D.C. 20515
Congresswoman Barbara Lee
Progressive Caucus Co-Chair
1724 Longworth HOB
Washington, D.C. 20515
|(The Progressive Caucus could take a stand
against the bill.)
Congressman Elijah E. Cummings
Black Caucus Chair
1632 Longworth HOB
Washington, DC 20515
(The Black Caucus could take a stand against the
Congressman John Lewis
34 Cannon HOB
Washington, D.C. 20515
(The Black Caucus could take a stand against the
Hispanic Caucus and Native American Caucus -
Contact info available at http://www.peaceforallnations.com/wsdpNOW.htm
And anyone else you may think could be persuasive
in this issue.
Thank you for your continued support - what affects
the native/indigenous peoples affects us all.
The Western Shoshone Distribution
Bill - H.R. 884/S 618
* HR 884/S 618 is an attempt to legitimize the theft of
Western Shoshone lands and to initiate massive corporate giveaways
of the land and its resources.
- This bill distributes money awarded for an alleged extinguishment
of title to 24 million acres of land, the vast majority
of which is currently classified as "public" lands. The
issue of title to the land and accounting for resource extraction
is the subject matter of current litigation, I, 03-CV-2009,
U.S. District Court, D.C.
- This bill would open the way to large scale privatization
of lands held sacred by the Western Shoshone and currently
used and occupied by the native people for grazing, gathering
medicinal and food plants, hunting and fishing, and ceremonial
purposes. The stage is already being set for corporate giveaways
and largescale privatization of the lands. For example:
H.R. 2869 would work to give away Western Shoshone lands
to major mining interests such as Placer Dome; HR 2772 would
encourage large scale expansion of geothermal energy production
with no provision for Western Shoshone cultural beliefs
or compensation for use of the hot water; Senator Reid's
office has drafted the Northern Nevada Public Lands Management
Act which creates a process for large scale privatization
of the same lands.
- The land produces 2/3 the gold in the U.S., making it
the third largest gold producing area in the world, behind
South Africa and Australia. Due to the enormous wealth of
minerals, a 1999 USGS report sited the area as the number
one investment opportunity for extraction companies.
- Energy companies are lining up for access to the vast
geothermal resources with Senator Reid calling the area
the next "Saudi Arabia" of geothermal energy production.
- In a November 2003 letter sent to Secretary of Interior
Gale Norton, Congressman Grijalva (AZ) raised serious concerns
about the real intent of the bill and the involvement of
the federal government and mining, energy and nuclear industries
in presenting a misleading picture of the issues to the
public and to members of Congress.
letter in .pdf format. -
the free . pdf Reader ).
* Western Shoshone people oppose HR 884/S 618.
- A majority of the tribal councils and all of the traditional
Western Shoshone oppose the distribution of money until
the resolution of the land issues.
- In 1980, at the formal Hearing of Record, the claims
money was rejected because the U.S. could not demonstrate
how it had legally acquired title to the land. Since that
time, there has never been any vote of the Western Shoshone
on the bill. The straw poll ballot referenced by Congressman
Gibbons and Senator Reid was never authorized or certified
by any Western Shoshone government. Despite a request by
Congressman Tom Udall (NM), Interior has failed to provide
any documentation of its statements that a "majority" of
people are in favor of the bill.
* HR 884/S 618 underscores fundamental human rights violations
against the Western Shoshone.
- The Western Shoshone have never received a hearing on
the issue of title. The only issue decided by the U.S. Supreme
Court in U.S. v. Dann was whether or not "payment" had been
made when the money was accepted by the Department of Interior
on behalf of the Western Shoshone. The Supreme Court said
"yes", Interior serves as a "trustee" to the Indians and
Interior's acceptance equals acceptance by the Western Shoshone,
thereby triggering a statutory bar to litigation on the
- Last year, after 10 years of briefings and hearings,
an international judicial body (the Inter-American Commission
on Human Rights) found that the process used by the U.S.
violates Western Shoshone rights to property, to due process,
and to equality under the law.
- Amnesty International has issued a formal report on the
situation and has called upon the United States to adhere
to the international ruling of the Inter-American Commission.
- The Department of Interior continues acts of armed surveillance
and threats of impoundment against Western Shoshone. (In
the past Congressional session, hundreds of cattle and horses
were forcibly seized by the Department under military-type
* What the Western Shoshone Nation is asking for is reasonable.
- From the beginning, the Western Shoshone have asked for
good faith negotiations with the United States. Their request
is simple: to sit across the table and talk on an equal
- Complex negotiations occur in the corporate world everyday
and if the U.S. were to commit the appropriate political
will, a process could be decided upon that would satisfy
- The cost to the taxpayer would be less than continuing
the dispute and may in fact save monies which would otherwise
be spent in ongoing enforcement actions against Western
Shoshone and monies wasted or not realized in private sweet
heart deals with corporations and land developers.
link to: http://www.peaceforallnations.com/westshoshone.htm