August 1st, 2001

Contact: Raymond Yowell, Chief, Western Shoshone National Council 775-744-4381

Deborah Schaaf or Andy Huff, Indian Law Resource Center 406-449-2006

Christopher Sewall, Western Shoshone Defense Project 775-468-0230

United States Prepares to Steal Indian Nation's Livestock While Western Shoshone Delegation Appeals to United Nations for Assistance

A delegation of Western Shoshone citizens arrived in Geneva, Switzerland yesterday afternoon to solicit the intervention of several United Nations human rights bodies in support of Western Shoshone land and Treaty rights. Meanwhile, Western Shoshone herdsmen (and woman) in Crescent Valley and South Fork brace for a BLM attempt to confiscate their livestock. Elko District BLM Manager Helen Hankins confirmed BLM intent to move against the Western Shoshone livestock, but would not reveal when this would happen.

Western Shoshone elder, Mary Dann responded to the most recent BLM "order to remove", received last week, with a letter to the Elko BLM requesting the documentation of how the United States acquired the title to Western Shoshone lands and to explain why the BLM continues to harass her for exercising her rights. "...Also, you can help me in understanding the harassment, which causes me great mental pain and stress. I am not young anymore and this harassment is now into its 28th year." The BLM has received an appeal from the WSDP of their decision to impound, yet has stated that this is not an appealable decision.

The delegation includes Western Shoshone grandmother and traditionalist Carrie Dann, Western Shoshone National Council representative (and Yomba Shoshone Tribal Councilman) Johnny Bobb, and Yomba Shoshone Tribal Council member Maurice-Frank Churchill. They will be testifying before the United Nations Subcommission on the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights as well as educating members of the United Nations Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD). The Shoshone delegation is asking that the Committee recommend to the US to enjoin immediately all impoundment and trespass notices against Western Shoshone people, refrain from prosecuting Western

Shoshone hunters, take measures to ensure mining development and other activities do not impede Western Shoshone physical and cultural survival, and to proceed forthwith in binding negotiations to resolve Western Shoshone land and resource issues with Western Shoshone leaders. Helena, Montana based non-profit Native American law firm, the Indian Law Resource Center and the Crescent Valley based Western Shoshone advocacy organization, the Western Shoshone Defense Project is assisting the delegation on this trip.

Both the Yomba Shoshone Tribe, and the Ely Shoshone Tribe have filed complaints before the CERD charging the United States government with discriminatory treatment by failing to uphold indigenous property rights as well as discriminatory treatment of Western Shoshone culture and the failure to respect the right of self-determination. Recently, the Duckwater Shoshone Tribe and the Western Shoshone National Council have added their support to the international complaints. These complaints follow on the back of similar arguments put forth by the Western Shoshone Dann family before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. In October 1999, the Commission, part of the Organization of American States, deemed admissible the complaints brought forth by the Danns, indicating that the facts currently presented a prima fascia case of human rights violations. The Commission has made several requests to the U.S. State Department to suspend trespass actions against the Danns and other Western Shoshone. However, recent posting of trespass notices and orders to remove indicate that the U.S. is ignoring these requests.

For over 100 years since the signing of a Treaty of Peace and Friendship with the United States in 1863, the Western Shoshone Nation has asserted their continuing rights to use and occupy their ancestral lands. As part of the agreements within the Treaty, the Western Shoshone agreed to adapt their traditional lifestyles and become "agriculturists and herdsmen." However the U.S. has refused to recognize the right to graze animals on ancestral land, ignoring the Treaty, and arguing all rights to Western Shoshone ancestral lands have been extinguished.



The Western Shoshone Defense Project is an affiliate of the Seventh Generation Fund for Indian Development