- 2007-04-31: Thousands flocked to the shores of Lummi Reservation on
- 2007-04-19: Tonya Gonnella Frichner named as
the North American Representative to the
United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
- 2007-04-03: III Continental Summit of Indigenous Nations and Pueblos of Abya Yala
"From resistance to power" , Declaration of Iximche'
- 2007-03-27: Continental Indigenous Summit Abya Yala
: Western Shoshone Nation Attends Historic Indigenous Gathering
- 2006-02-02: DECLARATION OF THE INDIGENOUS WORLD URANIUM SUMMIT Window Rock, Navajo Nation, USA
- 2006-09-28: Bolivian Indigenous President to Meet with North American Native American Leaders
2006-03-10: Western Shoshone Victorious at United Nations: U.S. Found in Violation of Human Rights of Native Americans – Urged to Take Immediate Action .doc or .pdf
- Newmont Shareholders Groups Support UN Decision and Western Shoshone - Call for New Corporate Policy on Indigenous Lands, including Treaty Recognition .doc or .pdf
- 2006-04-04: Western Shoshone Defense Project, Shundahai Network
, Joint Press Release.
U.S. Defies U.N. Decision – Plans Massive Military Detonation On Western Shoshone Land Western Shoshone Call For Halt To Planned June 2 “Bunker Buster” Detonation At The Nevada Test Site .doc or .pdf
- US Elects not to Seek Seat on UN Human Rights Council --
ressure Builds for US Compliance with Indigenous Peoples Human Rights .doc or .pdf
- Pressure Builds for US Compliance with Indigenous Peoples Human Rights
2005-11-16: Western Shoshone Host Oxfam America's Global Extractive
- 2005-08-16: Western Shoshone
Travel To United Nations To Combat Ongoing U.S.
Human Rights Violations Against Indigenous Peoples
Western Shoshone and Allies Challenge Dept. of Interior
Decision to Open Spiritual and Cultural Area to
Further Destruction by Gold Mining
Group's high-tech efforts to aid Navajo honored
Statement by Carrie Dann to Petra Foundation
Ms. Magazine Recognizes Western Shoshone
grandmothers, Mary and Carrie Dann for Their Bravery
in Defending Native Land and Cultural Rights
As BLM Continues Seizure on Shoshone Lands,
Danns Save Horses From Impoundment
Western Shoshone Danns Sisters Evacuate Horses Under
Jan. 27, 2003 Press Release
Update on Western Shoshone Horse Evacuation
United States Ignores Findings of Inter-American
Commission on Human Rights while Western Shoshone
Horses begin Evacuation Process aided by Traditional
Opinion: The Nightmare Before Christmas
2002-12-19: Press Release: Despite Continued
Federal Intimidation, Western Shoshone Move Forward
on Seeking Land Talks
S. 958 : One last gasp... In a Late Night
Maneuver, Senator Reid Makes a Failed Attempt to
Revive the Western Shoshone Distribution Bill Without
Addressing the Real Issues
2002-11-22: Indian Royalties Case Official
Western Shoshone Distribution Bill Dies Quietly
in the House as the Call for Land Talks Mounts
Cat Sieh at email@example.com or call 715-2236.
From: "Red Tree Woman"
I Am Here..So You Do Not Forget
Date: Jul 31, 2007
LUMMI RESERVATION - Thousands flocked to the shores of Lummi Reservation on
Monday as nearly 80 canoes landed there - some after almost a month of
travel - marking the start of the weeklong Intertribal Canoe Journey.
Paddlers disembarked to awaiting arms and long embraces from friends and
As they waited to land, the canoes floated side by side in a long line
offshore, mirroring the crowd gathered on the beach.
More than a dozen people heaved each enormous canoe ashore one after the
other, causing waves of onlookers to stand back, quickly moving chairs set
up to watch the landing.
Paddlers from as far away as Bella Coola, B.C., began landing at 4 p.m.,
chanting and pounding their paddles on the bottom of their canoes as they
Cedar boughs strewn on the beach later floated in the shallows as the tide
came in, and volunteers draped cedar wreaths on the bow of each landing
For Chippewa-Cree and Blackfeet tribe member Dawn Black, the journey
symbolized a personal struggle.
Black, who traveled from Montana to paddle with the West Shore Canoe Family,
said her mother died a year ago, and her husband left her as a single mother
of seven children soon after.
"Since then, I've been lost," she said, weeping as she stepped onto the wet
sand. "For me this was not just a journey on the water, but trying to find
myself. I found that person, and I finally found some direction in my life."
The canoe journey has been held annually since 1989's Paddle to Seattle, but
this is the first time that the gathering has been held at Lummi. The
journey is partly a revival of the Northwest potlatch tradition of
ceremonial gift-giving, a tradition not practiced at Lummi since the 1930s.
Pockets of dozens of drummers and singers from various tribes played and
sang along the beach, welcoming the travelers, as announcers introduced each
Roseann Warner, who paddled with the Tlingit Nation, was already ashore when
her tribe's canoe came in for the ceremony. She and another canoe family
member jumped up and down, screaming and squealing.
"This is my first journey, and it's just awesome," Warner said.
Canoes traveling south to Lummi landed first, one by one along the shore.
Those paddling north came ashore nearly an hour later, in unison.
Lummi Nation members announced a welcome to each individual canoe, after a
epresentative from each asked permission to come ashore.
May Silvey, of the Seashell Nation, sat silently at shore, tears on her
cheeks. "I feel overwhelmed," she said. "I'm amazed to come through the
water that we have and that we made it safely, even though the odds were
against us sometimes."
Stolo Nation member Mary Malloway embraced her granddaughter Mary Ann
Johnson for several minutes as Johnson cried upon her arrival. Johnson came
from Chilliwack, B.C., with the West Shore canoe.
"I'm just glad she's here safely," Malloway said. "I worry about them when
they're out on the water."
"I Am Here..So You Do Not Forget ..to Fight the Fight one must be willing to
Sacrifice all for the Greater good of Indian Peoples.."
Red Tree Woman
Tonya Gonnella Frichner named as
the North American Representative to the
United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
April 19, 2007:
Tonya Gonnella Frichner (Snipe Clan, Onondaga Nation), Vice Chair of the Seventh Generation Fund for Indian Development, and Founder and President of the American Indian Law Alliance, has been selected as the North American Representative of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. Her three-year term will extend from January 8, 2008 until December 2010. As stated, the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) is an advisory body and subsidiary organ of the Economic and Social Council with a mandate to discuss Indigenous issues related to economic and social development, culture, the environment, education, health and human rights.
Ms. Frichner is committed to the adoption of the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples by the UN General Assembly, stating that, “This document is built on the sweat and tears of Indigenous Peoples, and when adopted, it will provide hope and optimism for meaningful change for our Peoples throughout the world.” Tonya will also continue to serve as an advocate for the rights of Indigenous women and girls.
Citizen of the Onondaga Nation of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederacy, Tonya Gonnella Frichner is an attorney, educator, advocate, and recognized leader, whose excellent and dedicated work on behalf of Indigenous Peoples’ rights radiates throughout North America and beyond, into other areas of the Indigenous world. Her more than twenty years of focused work on Indigenous rights and issues, including the protection of our lands, territories, intellectual properties, human rights, and cultural survival, have at all times exemplified the unique qualities of an international advocate and diplomat of outstanding merit and distinction.
Shaped by her Onondaga people’s history and culture, and then perfected through two decades of frontline work at the United Nations and other international fora, Tonya was born and raised on her people’s traditional territories in what is known as the state of New York. Her life has been guided and defined by the rich international advocacy heritage of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, as well as by the excellent oratory and critical thinking skills she learned directly from her mother and family, and her chiefs and clan mothers whose ancestors were the first Indigenous Nation to execute a treaty with the new United States in 1776.
March 27, 2007
Contact: Julie Fishel WSDP
(775) 468-0230 (U.S.);
(506) 206-7503 (central america)
Continental Indigenous Summit Abya Yala
Western Shoshone Nation Attends Historic Indigenous Gathering
Iximche, Guatemala - Arriving this morning in Guatemala City to attend the III Continental Indigenous Summit in Iximche, Western Shoshone National Council member Joe Kennedy established diplomatic precedent for the hemisphere by entering the Maya Territories on his Western Shoshone passport. The continental summit of Nations and Pueblos of the Indigenous Peoples of the continent Abya Yala (the Americas) is now taking place at the sacred ceremonial precinct of Iximche, some 80 kilometers from Guatemala City. The event is being attended by indigenous delegations from Alaska to Argentina with over 2000 participants.
Arriving in Iximche, Mr. Kennedy stated, "I feel good, and I feel honored that the Guatemalan authorities welcomed me into the country recognizing me as a Western Shoshone national. The Indigenous Peoples here are facing the same kind of issues we are facing in the north, and face the same threat by the multi-national corporations such as mining and environmental contamination. These affect the traditional foundation of our nations which is the land, the air, the water and spirituality."
The III Continental Summit of Indigenous Nations and Pueblos of Abya Yala marks a new phase in the relationship between the nations of Indigenous Peoples and the government states of the Americas. One of the most telling examples of this fact is the presence of the minister of foreign relations for the Bolivian government, Mr. David Choquehuanca who on Monday addressed the inaugural session of the Summit Abya Yala in representation of President Evo Morales of Bolivia. President Morales himself is scheduled to arrive at the Summit Abya Yala on Friday to attend the official closure of the five day gathering.
One of the specific proposals being brought forward to the summit is the delivery to Mr. Morales of an Archive of Treaties between the government states of the continent and the nations of Indigenous Peoples of Abya Yala.
"These treaties must be honored. They are supposed to be the supreme law of the land." said Mr. Kennedy, referring in particular to the Ruby Valley Treaty of 1863 which is the foundation of several legal victories by the Western Shoshone Nation in the international arena.
The Western Shoshone won a victory on March 10, 2006 in a decision by the United Nations Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) wherein the US government was urged to "freeze, desist, and stop actions being taken or threatened to be taken against the Western Shoshone peoples of the Western Shoshone Nation. The Western Shoshone delegation at the III Continental Indigenous Summit Abya Yala, which includes Western Shoshone members Sandy Dann and Larson Bill is to present before the summit on the implications of the CERD decision in terms of other Nations of Indigenous Peoples of the continent Abya Yala (the Americas).
"The history of racial discrimination in terms of the relationship between our Indigenous Peoples and the government states has roots in the Doctrine of Discovery and the Papal Bull Inter Caetera of 1493," stated Mr. Kennedy. "It is time that the present governments step up to these historical injustices, and take action to stomp out all forms of racial discrimination."
The Doctrine of Discovery is one of the items on the agenda of the continental issues to be addressed in Iximche, at the III Continental Indigenous Summit Abya Yala.
Uranium Summit - Statement By Indigenous Peoples
DECLARATION OF THE
INDIGENOUS WORLD URANIUM SUMMIT
Window Rock, Navajo Nation, USA
December 2, 2006
We, the Peoples gathered at the Indigenous World Uranium Summit, at this
critical time of intensifying nuclear threats to Mother Earth and all
life, demand a worldwide ban on uranium mining, processing, enrichment,
fuel use, and weapons testing and deployment, and nuclear waste dumping
on Native Lands.
Past, present and future generations of Indigenous Peoples have been
disproportionately affected by the international nuclear weapons and
power industry. The nuclear fuel chain poisons our people, land, air and
waters and threatens our very existence and our future generations.
Nuclear power is not a solution to global warming. Uranium mining,
nuclear energy development and international agreements (e.g., the
recent U.S.-India nuclear cooperation treaty) that foster the nuclear
fuel chain violate our basic human rights and fundamental natural laws
of Mother Earth, endangering our traditional cultures and spiritual
We reaffirm the Declaration of the World Uranium Hearing in Salzburg,
Austria, in 1992, that “uranium and other radioactive minerals must
remain in their natural location.” Further, we stand in solidarity with
the Navajo Nation for enacting the Diné Natural Resources Protection Act
of 2005, which bans uranium mining and processing and is based on the
Fundamental Laws of the Dine. And we dedicate ourselves to a
Indigenous Peoples are connected spiritually and culturally to our
Mother, the Earth. Accordingly, we endorse and encourage development of
renewable energy sources that sustain — not destroy — Indigenous lands
and the Earth’s ecosystems.
In tribute to our ancestors, we continue centuries of resistance against
colonialism. We recognize the work, courage, dedication and sacrifice
of those individuals from Indigenous Nations and from Australia, Brazil,
Canada, China, Germany, India, Japan, the United States, and Vanuatu,
who participated in the Summit. We further recognize the invaluable
work of those who were honored at the Nuclear-Free Future Awards
ceremony on December 1, 2006. And we will continue to support activists
worldwide in their nonviolent efforts to stop uranium development.
We are determined to share the knowledge we have gained at this Summit
with the world. In the weeks and months ahead, we will summarize and
disseminate the testimonies, traditional Indigenous knowledge, and
medical and scientific evidence that justify a worldwide ban on uranium
development. We will enunciate specific plans of action at the tribal,
local, national and international levels to support Native resistance to
the nuclear fuel chain. And we will pursue legal and political redress
for all past, current and future impacts of the nuclear fuel chain on
Indigenous Peoples and their resources.
PRINT in .DOC, .PDF, or .HTM
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
For more information please contact:
Kent Lebsock, American Indian Law Alliance, 917-751-4239
Bolivian Indigenous President to Meet with North American Native American Leaders
The President of Bolivia, an Aymara Indian elected to his country’s highest office in December 2005, will meet with American Indian Leaders on Monday, September 28, 2006. The President, along with his country’s Foreign Minister, David Choquehuanca, (also Aymara), is in New York City for the opening of this year’s General Assembly at the United Nations.
The meeting is being hosted by the Secretariat of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues of the United Nations and the American Indian Law Alliance, an Indigenous peoples’ non-governmental organization working with offices in New York City. Alex Contreras, President Morales Press Secretary, stated that “the meeting was set up at the request of Mr. Morales and seeks to initiate a substantive exchange between Indigenous leaders from the North and the South to discuss the issues shared by Native peoples of the Western Hemisphere.” Kent Lebsock, the Executive Director of the American Indian Law Alliance, added “the election of President Morales is an historic event for all Indian peoples. For him to honor us by meeting with our traditional Native American leaders is another step in the undeniable presence of Indigenous peoples in international advocacy, especially human rights.”
President Morales’ office had specifically requested a small meeting in order to ensure that substantive, frank discussions could occur. Participants look forward to this being the first of more meetings designed to improve the dialogue between the Bolivian government and American Indian nations and First Nations of Canada. Issues to be discussed include lands, resources and the revitalization of traditional Indigenous processes in government, conservation and environmental management.
The meeting comes at the beginning of the General Assembly session. It is expected that the United Nations will take up the issue of the Declaration on the Rights of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. For over 20 years, Indigenous peoples from around the world have worked with human rights experts to develop this international human rights instrument. Finally, having made it’s way to the General Assembly, it is being supported by many United Nations’ member states and Indigenous nations, organizations and communities around the world. However, it is also facing strong opposition from the United States, Canada, and Australia. The meeting between Morales and North American Indian leaders will also focus on ensuring the passage of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Haudenosaunee, Lakota and Cree nations will participate along with urban Native Americans from New York City. The opening ceremony will be by Sid Hill, Tadodaho of the Haudenosaunee (Six Nations, Iroquois Confederacy) from Onondaga in upstate New York. Oren Lyons, also from Onondaga; Alex White Plume, tribal chairman and a traditional leader of the Oglala Sioux Nation; along with Willie Littlechild and Rick Lightning (Ermineskin Cree Nation), John Bull (Louis Bull Cree Nation), and Raymond Cutknife (Samson Cree Nation), will also participate. Local leadership includes Tonya Gonnella Frichner a citizen of the Onondaga Nation and the meeting’s moderator, Roberto Borrero, Taino, and Esmeralda Brown, a long time United Nations advocate for Indigenous rights.
There will be an opportunity for the Press to Interview the Participants at 4:00 p.m. at 2 United Nations Plaza, in the Lobby.
Mining Industry publication on recent Newmont Mining Corp's annual shareholder meeting
Major Mining's Impossible Dream; a Low-Profile AGM
By: Dorothy Kosich Apr. 26, 2006
DENVER--(Mineweb.com) For major mining companies, the quiet and mercifully brief annual general meeting is simply a relic of a by-gone era.
Tuesday's Newmont AGM provided an excuse for dual demonstrations by environmental and human rights NGOs, security overkill by local law enforcement, and the presence of curious journalists, who used to find these meetings boring and not newsworthy.
To celebrate the event, the Denver-based environmental NGO Stop Newmont Mining organized two days of education "in the classroom and in streets to create a better future for ourselves and for future generations." The education consisted of one day of environmental and human rights lectures at a local college campus with a second day of protests.
In Mineweb's unquenchable thirst for truth or, pursuit of a potentially good story, we braved both the environmentally correct lion's den and the Newmont AGM
Surprisingly, there were several talks at the Stop Newmont conference, which emphasized third-party monitoring, or scholarship, or even basic common sense among the usual emotional anti-mining rhetoric. Padre Marco Arana Zegarra is probably best known to the mining community for his interviews with the New York Times and the Public Television's Frontline. He has organized protests and demonstrations against Newmont's Yanacocha mine in Peru, which, at times, have been remarkably effective at capturing Newmont's and the media's attention.
In college, the soft-spoken priest studied water and hydrology issues, earning a master's degree, which now serves him well in the debate regarding mining's potential impacts on water quality and quantity. He is the diocesan priest for one of the poorest areas in Latin America. He believes his parishioners have the "right to live in peace" without worrying about long-term pollution and/or permanent harm to human health. Self-determination over the use of their land is as big issue for campensinos in Peru, coca growers in Ghana, and Native American ranchers in Crescent Valley, Nevada, as it is for the small homeowner in Middle America.
While the Padre wishes there was not a gold mine near Cajamarca, Peru, he is realistic enough to admit the mine and the community must co-exist. Nevertheless, Father Marco is adamant that Newmont not expand mining operations to watershed areas.
Coincidentally, Father Marco and Newmont Chairman and CEO Wayne Murdy agree on one very vital point: no matter how much Newmont pays in taxes, donates to the community, or how many local miners it employs, the local and regional governments lack the capacity to adequately address problems.
During the AGM, Murdy spoke of the outstanding Peruvian laboratory that Newmont has to test water samples pertaining to its operations. The priest prefers that an independent environmental agency, not located with the Department of Mines, monitor, test and enforce water quality in an efficient timeframe.
Murdy noted that numerous audits have been conducted of Newmont's environmental and social track record at Yanacocha. Nevertheless, he added, "water quality will always been an issue" so powerful that it actually helped stop the nearby Cerro Quillish project.
Kristi Begay, the Chairwoman of the Wells Band of the Western Shoshone in Nevada, would like Newmont to formally recognize the sovereignty of the Western Shoshone people to have a say over the future of their traditional territories. Murdy admitted Newmont could do better in its dealings with the Western Shoshone Nation. "We have made some headway. We are prepared to go a lot further," he declared to shareholders. Nevertheless, he conceded that a 2% Shoshone representation on a Newmont Northern Nevada workforce of hundreds is not something to brag about.
Julie Fishel, Executive Director of the Western Shoshone Defense Project and an attorney, reminded Newmont shareholders of potential corporate liability stemming from litigation, treaty rights issues, and UN declarations.
Paula Palmer, who helped organize the Stop Newmont meeting, asserted that the anti-mining protests in Indonesia and Peru are born out of the frustrations of local peoples with a foreign mining company, they believe, is not sufficiently addressing their concerns. Daniel Owuusu-Koranteg, Executive Director of the Wassam Association of Communities Affected by Mining in Acurra, Ghana, spent time the previous day extolling the benefits of coca trees to his people's way of life.
However, Murdy observed: "There is nothing romantic about subsistence farming and fishing." As Murdy, the World Bank, and a number of economists believe, developing nations are going through considerable change and dynamics in today's international economy, Internet-connected world. Like most North American parents, Indonesian, Peruvian and Ghanaian mothers and fathers may have dreams of a better life for their children, which include attending college. The bucolic, pastoral world of eco-tourism, livestock rearing, indigenous traditional ceremonies, and coca-bean farming that exists in the world of the NGOs may not necessarily be the primary goal of a nation striving to become a viable international trade partner.
Unfortunately, Newmont, like most mining companies, is not exactly spell-binding when it comes to convincing non-mining, ordinary folk to share its vision of a golden future. Folks like Father Marco understand the need for base metals mining and its role in the building of infrastructure to advance societies. The need for Central Banks, jewelers, and others to hold gold, and miners to move tons of rock for an ounce of gold is lost on quite a few ordinary folk.
Particularly frustrating is that Newmont is one of the few mining companies willing to stick its neck out and take the beatings from its stakeholders. The corporate philosophy of another major gold miner--to keep a low profile and not publicly discuss its foibles and strengths with special interest NGOs--is well known in mining circles. Nonetheless, even as this reporter writes, Newmont executives are meeting with the anti-Newmont NGOs in a search for common ground and positive solutions.
For a reporter who endured the "Evil Empire" days--when Newmont rarely returned press calls, or sometimes insisted journalists wear microphones and be recorded during interviews--today's Newmont has come a very long way in terms of community and media relations. Unfortunately, the folks at the Stop Newmont meeting are probably too young to recall the bad old days of general mining public and community relations.
Things are definitely better. Nevertheless, corporate could do a better job when it comes to convincing general managers that achieving positive partnerships with stakeholders may be as important as meeting production targets. This inked-stained wretch would be personally impressed if a corporate policy of transparency and open doors were applicable, say, to a Corporate Environmental Vice President, or a Regional Vice President of Nevada Mining Operations.
To a casual observer, Newmont's all-white, upper-class, well-compensated board of directors may not personally relate to the problems of an African subsistence farmer, a Peruvian Indian campensino, or a youthful Northern Nevada rural tribal leader.
Despite today's sophisticated world of multinational mining, a subsistence farmer or coca grower still lives according to a belief system, which values eye-to-eye contact and a face-to-face commitment by a mining CEO or president more than gold.
Western Shoshone Host Oxfam America's Global Extractive
September 16, 2005.
Crescent Valley, Nevada (Newe Sogobia).
On Tuesday, September 13, Western Shoshone spent the day hosting the
Global Extractive Industries Team of Oxfam America in the Crescent Valley
and Ruby Valley area. Western Shoshone in attendance included traditional
people and Shoshone members from Battle Mountain, Wells, Southfork,
Timbisha, and Elko. Oxfam America is an international development and
relief agency and affiliate of Oxfam International. Oxfam America's
Global Extractive Industries team brings together Oxfam staff from several
departments and world regions, including the U.S., South America, Central
America and West Africa, who all work on the extractive industries program.
The Oxfam Team was given a tour of the Mt. Tenabo/Horse Canyon area
- a spiritual site for Western Shoshone threatened by Cortez mine's
plans to conduct open pit and underground mining under their Cortez
Hills project. In the evening, Western Shoshone gathered in the Southfork
community to welcome the guests, provide them with Western Shoshone
traditional foods and share information and stories. The Oxfam Team
were in Elko for the week conducting their long range planning retreat.
"The Western Shoshone are moving forward on education and gaining
information and knowledge from other communities who have had past experiences
with mining in their areas. The networks we are building with organizations
like Oxfam America will put our people in a better position to talk
one on one with the companies. We are pleased that they came to our
area which is highly affected by mining upon aboriginal lands and we
are hopeful that the information we shared will be helpful in this combined
effort to provide a sustainable and accountable result for the mines
and the Western Shoshone." www.nodirtygold.org/
Stated Larson Bill, Western Shoshone Defense Project community organizer.
Western Shoshone have been working over the last several years with
members of Oxfam America in several different issue areas and the day
long tour and traditional dinner this week was a result of the strong
relationship which has been built. In February 2004, Oxfam America and
Earthworks launched the No Dirty Gold campaign to educate people about
gold mining practices, their affects on local communities and to urge
consumers to demand more responsible alternatives. As part of the campaign,
the situation of the Western Shoshone has been highlighted. Next month,
the campaign will stage a cross-country tour intended to highlight the
need for recognition of the right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent
in communities affected by extractive industries projects. For more
information on the campaign go to www.nodirtygold.org.
"Elko was chosen for our Global Extractive Industries Team retreat
because of our close partnership with Western Shoshone Defense Project
and the Extractive Industries Team's interest in learning more about
how extractive industries have affected the Western Shoshone," stated
Keith Slack, Senior Policy Advisor and Extractive Industries Team Leader,
Press Release For Immediate Release
Western Shoshone Travel To United Nations To Combat Ongoing U.S. Human Rights Violations Against Indigenous Peoples
16 August 2005. Geneva, Switzerland.
Joe Kennedy, Western Shoshone: "Our traditional laws tell us we were placed here as caretakers of the land. 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."
In response to increased threats from the United States, the Western Shoshone Nation has filed an Urgent Action Request before the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD or "Committee"). The request challenges the US government¦s assertion of federal ownership of nearly 90% of Western Shoshone lands. The land base covers approximately 60 million acres, stretching across what is now referred to as the states of Nevada, Idaho, Utah and California. 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. The Committee established the early warning/urgent action procedures in 1993 in order to act quickly in preventing the further escalation of human rights abuses in situations like the one facing the Western Shoshone.
In addition to the written request, a Western Shoshone delegation is in Geneva, Switzerland August 8-19th. Delegates are speaking with the CERD¦s experts and have raised their concerns before the U.N. Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights. CERD will be meeting with representatives from the U.S. government this week to hear the government¦s response. 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. In its 2005 CERD 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 U.S. Once the U.S. agrees to such a "cease fire," the Western Shoshone are willing to engage in good faith negotiations with the appropriate U.S. representatives in order to resolve the dispute.
CERD has previously expressed concern about the ongoing struggle of the Western Shoshone people and the continued violation of indigenous human rights in the U.S. 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 non-Christians. 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 U.S. never provided an answer. In 2001, CERD noted the situation of the Western Shoshone and the "persistence of the discriminatory effects ...and destructive policies with regard to Native Americans."
Since CERD expressed its concerns in 2001, the situation has become even more grave. The U.S. has conducted numerous military style seizures of Western Shoshone livestock, has transferred alleged Western Shoshone "trespass fines" to the U.S. 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 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 assert that these actions, justified by racially discriminatory legal doctrines enshrined in the domestic law of the U.S., demonstrate a serious, massive and persistent pattern of racial discrimination against the Western Shoshone Nation and its people in accordance with CERD¦s urgent action and early warning procedures.
In January 2003, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights found that the United States was acting in current violation of Western Shoshone rights to property, to due process and to equality under the law. The IACHR recommended that the U.S. remedy the situation of the Western Shoshone and review Federal Indian law and policy to ensure its compliance with recognized human rights standards. The U.S.¦ only response was to assert that the Inter American human rights body did not have jurisdiction over it.
Full copies of the legal filings, please call 775-468-0230, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For Additional Information or Interviews with the Western Shoshone Delegation to the United Nations, please contact Julie Ann Fishel, Western Shoshone Defense Project (41-22-747-00-14 in Geneva or
775-468-0230 in the U.S.)
Press Release – For Immediate Release
Western Shoshone and Allies Challenge Department of Interior Decision to Open Spiritual and Cultural Area to Further Destruction by Gold Mining
November 30, 2004, Crescent Valley, NV. On Friday, November 26, the Te-Moak Tribe of Western Shoshone Indians, the Western Shoshone Defense Project, and Great Basin Mine Watch joined forces and filed a petition for review with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM)’s State Director Robert Abbey.
The Petition challenges BLM’s decision to approve an expansion of mining exploration activities by Cortez Gold Mines in and around Horse Canyon. Horse Canyon is located at the center of Western Shoshone territory and immediately adjacent to the sacred Mt, Tenabo. BLM approved the expansion despite Western Shoshone protests and BLM recognition of the area as a site of Cultural and Religious Importance under the National Historic Preservation Act. The area continues to be used by Western Shoshone for hunting, gathering, religious and cultural purposes. As explained in the petition, these traditional uses will be adversely affected, if not destroyed, by the approved activities. Unfortunately, BLM failed to adequately consult Western Shoshone about its decision. As such, the petition requests that the project be stayed and that the State Director remand the decision to the BLM for full compliance with federal law.
Horse Canyon is part of the same area where hundreds of horses belonging to Mary and Carrie Dann, Western Shoshone grandmothers, were seized last year by federal agents under the auspices of the Department of Interior.* Now the only “horses” heading toward the canyon are metal “horses” in the form of drill rigs and bulldozers as Cortez Gold Mine, a joint venture of Placer Dome, Inc. (Canadian-owned) and Kennecott Minerals (Australian-owned) rides in on BLM’s approval.
Jody Abe, Western Shoshone and Te-Moak Tribal Council member explained, “we are outraged. Once again, the Tribes have been left out of decision making process that affects our people and our environment. The Te-Moak Tribe of Western Shoshone has an interest in the preservation and protection of our homeland. The issue of our title as recognized by the 1863 Treaty of Ruby Valley is still intact and federal court action and other actions are ongoing, the Department of Interior and the mining companies know this and must begin taking these issues seriously.”
Carrie Dann, Western Shoshone grandmother likewise explained,“I will never understand it, for years we used our best efforts to educate and stop further destruction of our people and those things that are sacred to us. And yet, it is this federal administration who claims ’moral values’ and these companies who claim to be socially responsible that have shown nothing but disrespect for the ways of the Shoshone people. What good are museums for Native Americans and cultural centers if our culture is destroyed? We are not artifacts in the past - we’re here, we’ve always been here and we will always be here. We were placed here on this land by the Creator as caretakers – our voices must be heard in decisions affecting all that is sacred, which includes the land.”
For further information, contact Nicole Rinke of Western Mining Action Project (775) 337-2977
(WMAP is a non-profit environmental law firm specializing in mining issues).
A full copy of the Petition for Review is available upon request.
Wednesday, November 10, 2004
Group's high-tech efforts to aid Navajo honored
By Electa Draper Denver Post Staff Writer
Durango - In the Navajo Nation, where as late as the year 2000 some 80 percent of households lacked electricity, telephones or running water, a grassroots group has won international acclaim for using technology to preserve native landscapes and sacred sites.
The Navajos call themselves the Diné, or "the people," and their reservation, which sprawls across parts of Utah, New Mexico and Arizona, is the country's largest both in population and size. From all corners of the reservation, a group emerged in 1988 called Diné CARE, or Citizens Against Ruining Our Environment.
Today in San Jose, Calif., the Tech Museum of Innovation, the United Nations and technology giants such as Intel and Microsoft will honor Diné CARE and 24 other laureates, from Bangladesh to Australia to Nigeria, for pioneering uses of technology to meet humanitarian needs. Diné CARE is being credited with extraordinary environmental accomplishments.
The all-Navajo nine-member board of Diné CARE first formed to defend the tiny settlement of Dilkon in the southwestern part of the reservation from a proposed toxic-waste incinerator and dump.
In 1991, Diné CARE defended the settlement of Huerfano, N.M., and a nearby sacred mountain from a proposed asbestos dump. The group forced a temporary halt to timber cutting in Navajo forests until environmental studies could be conducted. And it started an innovative forest-mapping project using Geographic Information Systems, or GIS, with the end goal of reforestation in the Chuska Mountains of Arizona.
"Mapping is a powerful thing," says Durango-based board member Lori Goodman. "We can show where our sacred sites, communities and wildlife populations are. There is a big social impact being made here by making this technology available to all our people."
In 1998, Diné CARE led the charge to reform the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act and to clean up uranium tailings and fight future mining. The group, allied with tribal officials, has fought drilling for oil and gas near communities such as Dzilth-Na- O-Dith-Hle and sacred sites such as Gobernador Knob in northwestern New Mexico.
Tech museum president Peter Giles said the award "seeks to inspire a new generation of socially conscious leaders who will leverage technology to address the myriad of challenges we face as a global community."
Diné CARE's latest concern, Goodman says, is that some developers preparing to build coal- fired power plants in the Four Corners are asking tribal elders to sign over their grazing rights for little compensation.
"The reality is that our people are doing this work because we have no choice anymore," the board said in a joint statement defining its overall purpose. "Many of our traditional people are being discriminated against and exploited on their own lands, simply because their ways are not 'progressive' or centered around Anglo notions of economic development."
Staff writer Electa Draper can be reached at 970-385-0917 or email@example.com