Selective Management is Harassment
by Carrie Dann
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is again in the business
of harassment and intimidation of Western Shoshone people.
They know when people are just trying to make some sort of
living off the land, yet here comes the Great White Father,
causing pain, emotional stress, duress, inflicting fear.
Events at South Fork
The BLM threatens South Fork Western Shoshone Cattle
Grazers with heavy fines and possible impoundment of their
livestock. The Secretary of the Interior claims to be the
trustee for the Western Shoshone. If it is a trustee, the
Department of the Interior must work for the Western Shoshone
people, instead of threatening them. A trustee must find every
law to protect these Western Shoshone cattle people.
I guess my question to the BLM is - are you a trustee? If
you are, then act like a trustee - It is your job to see that
these people are not harassed and intimidated by your lower
level personnel at the local BLM. No, by acting against the
Western Shoshone cattle grazers the Department of the Interior
now becomes someone else - not a trustee, but the developer of
the lands. Hey! Here is the conflict of interest. The DOI
canít act as a trustee and push Shoshone cattle grazers from
their livelihood and way of life.
It is ironic that in the face of these threats, the South
Fork Cattle-people have asked local BLM or their superiors
questions about land title and treaty, which they refuse to
address. Why are these questions so difficult to answer? These
questions are all based on US laws - so I donít see any
problem in addressing their concerns. To this day, US Courts
claim that the Treaty of Ruby Valley is still in full force
Yet, the BLM is trying to get the South Fork Cattle
Grazersí organization to pay fines on trespass alleged by
the BLM. The Cattle-people have refused to pay or get a permit
for grazing, and to this day have not paid anything for the
charges of trespassing. The South Fork Traditional
Cattle-persons Association has stayed firm in its stand that
the lands they are currently using belong to the Western
Shoshone Nation, and that therefore US Department of the
Interior canít asses grazing fees on them.
The BLMís new tactic is not to fine the cattle
organization, but to fine each individual member who runs or
owns cattle at South Fork. The doctrine of divide and conquer
is a weapon to weaken the Traditional Cattle Grazers at South
Fork. Every one is now being harassed and intimidated in the
hope that he will fall, and buy a BLM grazing permit and pay
Under the unity of the Traditional Cattle Grazers the group
has stayed strong in their claim that the land is Western
Shoshone land, recognized by the Treaty of Ruby Valley.
Events in Crescent Valley
On November 10, 1997, the State Director of the BLM Mr.
Robert Abbey paid the Dann sisters a visit. Mr. Abbey said
that he felt that he was a decent man, but he had to carry out
the court order to remove our livestock, as they claim we are
in trespass. He said he would see that all trespass
impoundment orders will be enforced by the BLM.
Mary and I believe that the BLM must have a legal transfer
document by which the Western Shoshone Nation gave our land to
the US. This would have to be a treaty of cession. Mr. Tom
Warren, Elko BLM District Range Specialist has told us many
times that there is none, and of course this is right. The
Western Shoshone have not made a treaty of cession, nor did
they make any agreements giving our land to the US - ever.
The US is a forerunner in TAKING other peoples land without
their approval - is it because they had and now have the
weapons of mass destruction? In the history of westward
movement, the indigenous people have been massacred and
murdered. There was a bounty on men, women, and children, and
populations were reduced to about 2%. This was physical
genocide. Today, there is destruction of Mother Earth,
destruction of water, air contamination. These things, Earth,
Water, and Air, are the most sacred to Indigenous peoples, and
they represent life. I call this the final act of genocide -
spiritual genocide against the Western Shoshone peoples.
Is it because they all think of indigenous peoples as
infidels, heathens or savages? They did and still do classify
us as our relative the Coyote, or any animal to be removed and
placed where they want us to be.
Again, my opinion. The environmental damage - OKíd by the
BLM - that has been done and is still being done to the Mother
Earth and destruction of the Natural Aquifer is devastating to
all life, and of course this will include human life as well
as animal and bird and every other life that is out there. If
the BLM continues on this journey of approving open pit mines
and dewatering, this is much worse than their claim of
overgrazing. They may have gold - but there will be no water.
No water, No life - itís that simple.Main Page of the Western
Shoshone Defense Project
Background on Western Shoshone issues