7
Jul
2004

Bush Signs Western Shoshone Bill

Statement by Carrie Dann on George W. Bush signing into “law” HR 884

July 7, 2004

Today the United States government has officially attempted to complete the largest theft of land in United States history. In violation of United States law, including the Constitution, George W. Bush, signed into law HR 884, an attempted payoff of the Western Shoshone land. However, this bill does not change the fact that title of the land still exists with the Western Shoshone. Fraud is fraud, and no matter what the U.S. does to us we will never give up our struggle to protect our Sacred Newe Sogobia – the Earth Mother.

The United States government signed the Treaty of Ruby Valley with the Western Shoshone Nation in 1863. According to Article 6 of the U.S. Constitution, the treaty is the supreme law of the land. But the United States government does not view the treaty this way. If they do not want to follow their own laws, that the constitution is the supreme law of the land, then this country is not a democracy. A democracy would be following the laws of the land.

I have said this a thousand times, I am not taking money for this land. This land has no value, there is no price for it. In Western Shoshone culture, the earth is our mother. We can not sell it. Taking our land is a not only a cultural genocide, it is also a spiritual genocide. The United States is attempting to steal our religion and our cultur.

I ask the United States today to show me how they received title to the land. The sole legal theory stated by the Indian Claims Commission (ICC) was that the Western Shoshone land title was extinguished through “gradual encroachment” by non-indigenous miners and settlers. However, such legal theory is no where found in American law. The only issue decided by the Supreme Court was whether the Western Shoshone had been paid, not who has title to the land. We have never had a court hear the issue of who has title to the land. The ICC was not a court. The United States did not give us the land, nor did they sell us the land. The land is ours. The United States can not show how they obtained title to the land.

The government continues to steal our cattle and horses. But I ask them, if they have clear title to the land, why do they come in the night like a thief to take my horses and cattle – why do they make sneak attacks – why do they attempt to take my livestock with no media attention? If the land title is clearly theirs – why do they act like thieves?

Why does the United States want this land? So they can sell it to large inter-national corporate interests, including mining companies, so they can test more nuclear weapons, so they can write the Indians off? The United States should not be allowed to steal the land so they can test more weapons that kill people. In fact, weapons that kill all life, including the plants and the animals. The United States also should not be allowed to steal the land so they can sell it to companies in order to obtain more gold and in the process ruin the water and kill the plant and animal life. This should not be allowed.

Today, the government has attempted to steal our mother earth – but this will not stop our fight to keep our land. We will not stand by to watch the United States steal our religion. We will not stand for the United States to commit spiritual genocide. For today what happens to us, tomorrow will happen to you. Although George W. Bush, Sen. Reid, and Rep. Gibbons believe that they can now sell this land to private interests, we will fight to stop it. This bill changes nothing. We are here to protect our mother earth. That is our responsibility. Our obligation will not be deterred by thieves.

Carrie Dann

Due to earlier grammatical error in the title, please use slightly revised press release below.

Western Shoshone Defense Project, 775-468-0230,
http://www.wsdp.org

Press Release – For Immediate Release

George Bush, President of the United States, Signs Western Shoshone “Distribution” Bill – Evidencing Ongoing Historical Atrocities Aginst Indigenous Peoples in the U.S.

July 7, 2004. Crescent Valley, NV. In spite of heavy opposition from the Western Shoshone Nation, this morning, the Western Shoshone Distribution Bill was signed into “law” by George W. Bush, President of the United States. 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 and the President were 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
(775) 468-0230
Fax: (775) 468-0237
http://www.wsdp.org
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