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 and effect.

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 the fine.

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.

Some Perspective

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.

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