12
Nov
2005

Land "Giveaway" Bill Confirms Western Shoshone Predictions

Date: Fri, 4 Nov 2005 11:37:07 -0800

For more information contact: WSDP 775-468-0230 or Hager & Hearne at 775-329-5800.

Press Release for Immediate Release

Land “Giveaway” Bill Confirms Western Shoshone Predictions
Nov. 4, 2005.

Crescent Valley, NV (Newe Sogobia). Confirming Western Shoshone predictions about massive federal land giveaways, the House Resources Budget Package was amended last week[1] to include what Congressman Rahall has dubbed a “blazing fire sale of federal lands to domestic and international corporate interests”.[2] Subtitle B of the bill lifts the moratorium on privatization or patenting of lands by mining companies and opens up virtually all federal or “public” lands at a small fraction of its true value. The measure could come to the House floor for a vote as early as next week.

This “liquidation sale” would include the vast majority of lands home to the Western Shoshone Nation - lands formally recognized by the U.S. as owned and occupied by Western Shoshone under the 1863 Treaty of Ruby Valley and now the subject of ongoing federal lawsuits and international proceedings. The land area is called Newe Sogobia in Shoshone and spans across the states of Nevada, Utah, Idaho and into Death Valley, California covering approximately 60 million acres of land, 80-90% of which is claimed as federal or public lands by the United States. The area is the 2nd largest gold producing area in the world and the U.S. Geological Service touts it as North America’s number one investment opportunity for the extractive industry. It contains Yucca Mountain, where the U.S. has been pushing to open a permanent nuclear waste repository. And importantly, it is also home to one of the most visible and well-established Indian land struggles in U.S. history – that of the Western Shoshone. Congressman Richard W. Pombo (R-WA), Chairman of the House Committee on Resources, defends his legislative measure by claiming that the sale of public lands will raise money to pay federal debts and will encourage “sustainable economic development”. The Western Shoshone do not agree and instead stand committed in their resolve to uphold their land title and protect their lands and waters from irresponsible corporate exploitation.

Just last year, in the face of Congressional promises of resolving the long standing land issues in "good faith" by compelling the Shoshone people to sell their land for 15 cents an acre, the Western Shoshone National Council and seven of the nine tribal councils opposed Congressional efforts and predicted that the real beneficiaries of the “Indian money” would be multinational mining and energy companies standing to gain billions of dollars by privatization of “public” lands and expanded resource exploitation. The handwriting was on the wall even then – while Congress tried to push the one-time payment on the Shoshone people, the Executive Branch, through the Department of Interior was destroying the economic livelihood of Western Shoshone by conducting military-style seizures of Western Shoshone cattle and horses. The land base was recently announced as the 2nd largest gold producing area in the world. Some $30 billion dollars in gold has been extracted from the region to date. In one instance, only months after removal of horses belonging to Western Shoshone grandmothers Mary and Carrie Dann, Placer Dome, the world’s 5th largest gold company, announced a doubling of its gold estimate from the same lands where the horses were seized. Other large gold corporations operating in the area include Barrick, Newmont, and Kennecott. The gold is microscopic and the mining is open pit, cyanide heap leach mining employing dewatering of up to 70,000 gallons of water per minute for one mine alone. The Shoshones' predictions, which some dubbed “conspiracy theories” and others saw as “synchronized thievery” have now come to fruition with the latest Congressional maneuver to make any and all alleged “public” lands part of a liquidation sale to bail the United States out of debt.

“ Western Shoshone title is still intact. We have been fighting this for years and will continue to fight. The U.S. thought when they made some notations in their bookkeeping that the Shoshone would be “paid” and any cloud to land title would be lifted. Well, they were wrong and we’re still here. We’ve never accepted their money and never will – our land, the earth mother is not for sale and we will protect her and continue our responsibilities as caretakers under the Creator’s law.” Stated Raymond Yowell, Chief of the Western Shoshone National Council.

Bob Hager, Attorney for the Western Shoshone added: “What we have here is an attempt by the United States to swindle the indigenous people, the public and investors. Western Shoshone land title is in litigation in the federal courts and the subject of a United Nations human rights inquiry. The U.S.’ behavior on this issue has already been found to violate basic human rights to property, due process and equality under the law. This latest maneuver only compounds those violations and draws in the complicity of the corporations. You can’t sell what is not yours in the first place and the companies lining up for the dole should keep that in mind.”

Western Shoshone Defense Project

P.O. Box 211308
Crescent Valley , NV 89821
(775) 468-0230
Fax: (775) 468-0237
//www.wsdp.org

//www.wsdp.org/alerts.htm#landgrab110405


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