Congress Passes Bill to Force Payment on Western Shoshone Land Struggle — A Sad Day for the Rule of Law in the United States, but the Fight?s not Over Say the Western Shoshone.
Crescent Valley, Nevada, U.S.A. — As of Friday morning, the Western Shoshone Distribution Bill has passed both houses of Congress and is on its way to the Bush Administration for signature. The bill would authorize an alleged payoff of approximately 15 cents an acres for tens of millions of acres of disputed lands in Nevada, Idaho, Utah and California. A majority of tribal councils, representing approximately 80% of the population, the Western Shoshone National Council and all the traditional people strongly oppose the bill, they are supported by the National Congress of American Indians and Amnesty International. This formal opposition was apparently ignored however and an undocumented, unverified straw poll was used instead by the Bush Administration and Nevada legislators to justify the legislation.
White House staffer Jennifer Farley, Deputy Associate Director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, informed one Shoshone Tribal Chairman that the bill was ?red hot.? The significance of the issue to the White House is apparent: Copies of Assistant Secretary of Interior Stephen J. Griles? calendars reflect meetings with Interior Department legal staff, including Bush’s Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals nominee, William Myers, regarding ?Western Shoshone Trespass (Dann Sisters)? just six months before the Department of Interior started military-style seizures of livestock owned by Western Shoshone traditionalists, including grandmothers Mary and Carrie Dann.
The land base at issue is the third largest gold producing area in the world and cited by a 1999 Interior report as the number one investment opportunity for extraction companies. It is also the site where the nation’s nuclear waste repository would be located, Yucca Mountain, and the home to the Nevada Test Site and Federal Counterterrorism Facility where the Bush Administration has talked of reopening nuclear testing. Both Bush and his political advisor Karl Rove, have made personal visits to Nevada in the last thirty days.
?I am utterly disappointed. It’s unbelievable that the U.S. body that makes the laws has acted in this manner. The fight is not over. A fraud is a fraud – Individuals cannot sell out a nation and the bill, although a threat politically, does nothing to change our inherent rights or our Treaty rights. Congress was informed of all the facts that touch upon this issue. We will use the Treaty of Ruby Valley to stop Yucca Mountain and to protect our lands. Our title is still intact,? stated Raymond Yowell, Western Shoshone National Council.
?The self-described, private group who pushed for this money are not members of any federally-recognized council and have no authority to speak on behalf of our Tribe or the Western Shoshone Nation. The Nevada legislators and the Bush Administration have been well-advised of this fact. The way this legislation was handled makes an absolute sham of the stated government to government relationship and responsibility of the U.S. government,? stated Hugh Stevens, Chairman of the Te-Moak Tribe of the Western Shoshone Nation. ?Senator Reid has made numerous public commitments regarding resolving land issues for our communities. We will be looking for him to stand by that commitment in an expeditious fashion. We demand that our land issues be resolved in good faith in the same ?hot line? fashion as the distribution,? he added.
Mary Gibson, Western Shoshone states: ?It’s not over, we still exist and we still have our rights to our land. It makes me sad and angry that myths continue to cloud the Truth in this country. This struggle isn?t a Shoshone v. Shoshone battle; the underlying issue here is the U.S. responsibility and accountability for a Treaty with the Western Shoshone Nation. As long as the people in the U.S. allow this to happen it will continue to happen.?
For additional info, contact the Western Shoshone Defense Project at 775/468-0230.
Western Shoshone Defense Project
P.O. Box 211308
Crescent Valley, NV 89821
United States of America
Fax: (1)(775) 468-0237