Attempt to Silence Treaty and Land Rights Assertions Being Made by the Western Shoshone Nation


Press Release – For Immediate Release

September 3, 2004

California Rancher Pleads Guilty to Western Shoshone Horses’ Abuse and Grand Theft

Crescent Valley, NV. On September 2, 2004, the California Rancher, Slick Gardner, who took Western Shoshone horses rounded up by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management from Western Shoshone grandmothers Mary and Carrie Dann pled guilty to grand theft and felony animal abuse. The sentencing hearing will be held Oct. 6 before Judge Arthur Garcia in Santa Barbara County. The Western Shoshone horses are being removed to safety under the care of the non-profit organization, Wildhorses in Need. Other horses received by Mr. Gardner through State and Federal programs/roundups are also being removed according to the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s office. The guilty pleas and removal of the horses ends a nearly two year long ordeal initiated by federal actions under the Bush Administration in an apparent attempt to silence treaty and land rights assertions being made by the Western Shoshone Nation to millions of acres of land throughout Central Nevada, parts of Idaho, Utah and California. The U.S. claims the land to be “public” land and has been conducting military style seizures and ongoing surveillance of both Shoshone and non-Indian ranchers. The Western Shoshone have been engaged in a decades long dispute asserting their rights to the land base under the 1863 Treaty of Ruby Valley and their ancestral connections to the land which they continue to use and occupy. The land base, sacred to the Western Shoshone, is also the third largest gold producing area in the world and temporary home to nomadic multinational mining interests including Barrick, Newmont, Placer Dome and Kennecott. The seizures of Western Shoshone animals began occurring just six months after Interior officials, Stephen Griles and William Myers – both closely tied to mining interests – met to discuss the Western Shoshone “situation”.

Upon news of the guilty pleas, Western Shoshone grandmother Carrie Dann stated: “It’s about time. But also, there are still doubts in my mind as to the working of the BLM and the State of Nevada with this kind of person. He represented to us his close relationship with both government units and his prior dealings with them in what he claimed as a wild horse sanctuary. It’s good that he admitted to the wrongdoing, now it’s time the U.S. admit to its own wrongdoing with regard to its treatment of the Western Shoshone Nation, its people and all living things on this land. The horses were doing just fine out here living free on the range, they would have never been in this bad situation in the first place if the United States government had acted honorably and in compliance with its own laws.”

Despite the recent passage of a forced legislative measure claiming to payoff the Western Shoshone for a portion of the land base, the Nation maintains its firm position on the title issue. “The federal government cannot unilaterally sell out a Nation’s homeland. We are still here and we will continue to assert our rights by way of our ancestors and under the Treaty of Ruby Valley. Our connection with the land was given to us by the Creator, not the U.S. – the U.S. cannot take what it did not give. We will use our rights to protect the land. Our title is still intact – we repeat: Western Shoshone Land is Not For Sale.” Stated Raymond Yowell, Chief of the Western Shoshone National Council.

Western Shoshone Defense Project
P.O. Box 211308
Crescent Valley, NV 89821
(775) 468-0230
Fax: (775) 468-0237


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September 2004

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