Who and What
The Western Shoshone Defense Project was established in
1991 by the Western Shoshone National Council to provide support
to Mary and Carrie Dann, Western Shoshone grandmothers faced with
the confiscation of their livestock which they graze on Western
Shoshone homelands. While we started as volunteers, in the last
decade with the support of many individuals and foundations, we
have grown into an organization with paid staff that asserts Shoshone
rights against violations to Newe Sobobia.
Since the 1950s, the U.S has tested hundreds of nuclear weapons
on Western Shoshone homelands and disposed of thousands of metric
tons of radioactive waste in unlined trenches at the Nevada Test
Site. Currently Congress has passed legislation to dump all of the
nuclear industry's high-level nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain.
Modern heap leach gold mining is gauging the heart of Western Shoshone
homelands. Newe Sogobia ranks third in gold production behind South
Africa and Australia.Nevada's contribution is 76%, 2/3 of which
is dug from Newe Sogobia. Gold mining is having a devastating affect
upon Western Shoshone homelands, water, and cultural areas. Because
the rights of Newe continue to be ignored, the Newe have no voice
in these land use decisions.
As an indigenous grassroots organization, we are taking the lead
to educate and organize for the protection of Newe Sogobia and Newe
rights. We are guided by Western Shoshone traditional and tribal
leaders, a seven member advisory board and the Western Shoshone
National Council, the traditional Western Shoshone government.
Since 1993, the WSDP has expanded its scope to address concerns
across Newe Sogobia. Our current goals are:
The Western Shoshone Defense Project's mission is to affirm Newe
(Western Shoshone) jurisdiction over Newe Sogobia (Western Shoshone
homelands) by protecting, preserving, and restoring Newe rights
and lands for present and future generations based on cultural and
spiritual traditions. The W.S.D.P. was established in 1991 by the
Western Shoshone National Council to provide support to Mary and
Carrie Dann, Western Shoshone grandmothers who were facing the confiscation
of the livestock which they graze on Western Shoshone lands.
- To actively support the Western Shoshone assertion of sovereignty
through outreach and education about continued threats to the
Western Shoshone Nation, and
- To reinforce traditional Newe beliefs through the promotion
of environmentally sustainable land use in Newe Sogobia.
Our Program has four main points:
- We seek to prevent BLM harassment of traditional Western Shoshone
cattlegrazers who continue to maintain their livelihood on Western
- The Mining Action Program works to expose and counter the gold
mining industry's destruction of cultural sites and to protect
the integrity of lands and waters, through public education, documentation,
- The Outreach and Education Program works within Western Shoshone
communities and the general public to share information about
cultural, spiritual, environmental, and human rights concerns
in Newe Sogobia. It is a multi-faceted program which includes
- an annual Spring Gathering; creation and distribution of information,
including a semi-annual newsletter; active support of Western
Shoshone based organizing around the nuclear and military development
of Newe Sogobia; co-ordination of speaking engagements;
involvement in public meetings; and presentations to various
Western Shoshone groups.
- We promote legal efforts to advance Western Shoshone land rights
The WSDP is based in Crescent Valley - a small town in North-Central
Nevada. Our Native and non-Native staff has a broad background
in the environmental and social justice movements. The WSDP
is guided by the traditional Western Shoshone government and by
an Advisory Board comprised of representatives from six Western
Shoshone communities. We also receive considerable assistance
from our network of supporters: 3,800 individuals and organizations,
local, national, and international. The common bond within
this network is the knowledge that the Western Shoshone and many
other indigenous peoples have been wrongly denied their sovereignty
and lands, and that we all have a responsibility to help create
a just solution to this situation.
The continued effectiveness of the Defense Project depends on your
support and participation!