Winter 1997 Update on the Danns Case Before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

from the Indian Law Resource Center

Mary and Carrie Dann are actively prosecuting their complaint before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. The Indian Law Resource Center filed the complaint in 1993 as part of a campaign to help the Dann band and other Western Shoshone bands to secure their aboriginal rights to their land. The United States government has responded to the Dann's case with a variety of legal tactics that include asking the Commission to declare the case inadmissible. The United States refuses even to acknowledge that it is bound by principles of international human rights, and has refused to enter into "friendly settlement" negotiations with the Danns.

In July 1997, the United States filed another submission in support of its effort to have the case declared inadmissible, this time alleging that the Danns' case was not timely filed. The Center's reply, filed in September emphasized that the actions of the United States that impede or threaten to impede the Western Shoshone people from using and occupying lands within their ancestral territory are ongoing. Those actions prevent the Danns and other Western Shoshone from hunting and grazing livestock and include United States complicity in gold mining operations that with each passing day encroach more onto lands they depend on for survival. Center attorneys met with the Danns in October 1997 to document these ongoing violations and to discuss the progress of the case.

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