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Feds Rustle Shoshone Livestock - Dann Sisters call attack

What you can do to help the Western Shoshone Nation
CRESCENT VALLY, NEWE SOGOBIA, Nev. -- Western Shoshone Indians and sympathetic Nevada stockmen are bracing for the next stage in federal raids on the herds of the elderly sisters and Shoshone traditionalists Mary and Carrie Dann, after a pre-dawn convoy Sept. 22 carried off more than 200 head of cattle for auction.

For More information please call the Western Shoshone Defense Project 775-468-0230 or email  wsdp@igc.org
Contact the WSDP to get on the Alert List in the event that the BLM continues with the planned confiscation of Shoshone livestock. People willing to participate in non-violent, direct action, as well as documentation (photo, audio, and video) are needed in Crescent Valley, Nevada. Remember, the Western Shoshone remain committed to the Treaty of Peace and Friendship. Firearms, Drugs, and Alcohol are strictly forbidden!

Feds Rustle Shoshone Livestock Again
Dann Sisters call attack

Posted: September 23, 2002 - 6:00pm EST
by: Valerie Taliman / Southwest Bureau Chief / Indian Country Today

CRESCENT VALLY, NEWE SOGOBIA, Nev. -- Western Shoshone Indians and sympathetic Nevada stockmen are bracing for the next stage in federal raids on the herds of the elderly sisters and Shoshone traditionalists Mary and Carrie Dann, after a pre-dawn convoy Sept. 22 carried off more than 200 head of cattle for auction.

Bureau of Land Management (BLM) agents staged the Sunday morning roundup as the latest move in a long-standing attempt to collect grazing fees from the Danns and other Shoshone ranchers for the use of what the federal government maintains is "public land." The Western Shoshone traditionalists have refused to pay for decades, maintaining that the rangelands were never legally ceded by their tribe. The raid came just days before the U. S. Senate Indian Affairs Committee is scheduled to meet to "mark up" a bill introduced by U. S. Sen. Harry Reid, D. - Nev., to extinguish the Shoshone land claims.

An anonymous tip on the night of Sept. 19 alerted the Danns that federal agents were planning another raid on their livestock.

The elderly sisters and their family waited on edge for two days before the next siege came in their 30-year struggle with the federal government over their right to graze cattle on Shoshone homelands.

The Danns, now in their 70s, immediately put out a call to supporters to help them bring cattle off the vast remote rangelands of northern Nevada where many Shoshone graze livestock.

Supporters and ranchers, Indian and non-Indian alike, began to arrive on the Dann Ranch, including a group of Shoshone cowboys from the Yomba Shoshone reservation and Chief Raymond Yowell who suffered a $100,000 loss when BLM confiscated and sold his cattle in May.

"It?s domestic terrorism," said Carrie Dann of the ongoing federal raids. "The mightiest nation in the world sent its paramilitary to steal our livestock and force us off our land. How can a country that professes to value democracy and human rights act like this? It?s morally and ethically wrong."

Throughout Friday and Saturday, the Danns and other ranchers rounded up as many cows as they could locate and herd onto private land before BLM agents and hired wranglers arrived in the pre-dawn hours of Sept. 22.

Meanwhile, other Western Shoshone people planned to stage demonstrations at BLM offices in Elko to protest the raid on the Dann sisters. At press time, the Danns were awaiting the return of federal agents for day two of the siege, which may last through Sept. 25, according to the anonymous tip that initially warned of the raid.

"When they came, it was just after 4 a.m.," said Mary Gibson, a Shoshone woman who had camped out with a group of 11 men, women and children in the rocky canyons near Pine Valley. "We saw a convoy of about 20 vehicles with flashing lights roaring up the valley.

"As I was waiting and praying to the Creator to help us, I could not help but think of how this is how our ancestors felt when they saw the cavalry coming. So many of my people were killed on this land and now it?s happening again. The Indian wars are not over."

Gibson said about 40 uniformed federal agents -- all armed with guns -- told them to evacuate the area or they would be arrested. The group was escorted out of the area and told not to return.

"These are Western Shoshone homelands where our people lived and died, where we raise our children and conduct ceremonies. This is our land, and we were driven off at gunpoint," she said.

Along with the caravan of sport utility vehicles came six or seven semi-trucks for hauling livestock off to auction, helicopters used to drive cattle, an airplane, about 20 all-terrain vehicles and more than 50 armed federal agents, Dann said.

As the roundup began, the Danns and others were told to stay off public land while the operation was going on or they would be arrested.

Two county roads leading into Cottonwood Canyon were closed and the entire area was sealed off to people trying to enter the valley.

"We were scared and very worried about what might happen to the Danns and their supporters," said Julie Fischel, an attorney working with the Western Shoshone Defense Project at headquarters in Crescent Valley. "We saw what happened at Waco, so we had people camped out there to witness their actions. We are always peaceful and unarmed in our resistance, but you never know how these kinds of assaults will unfold."

By Sunday night, BLM reported they had seized 227 head of cattle and were loading them onto stock trucks when Carrie Dann insisted on driving down the mountain to the holding pens where her cattle had been taken.

"A BLM vehicle got in front of me and another behind me on that narrow dirt road and drove about 10 miles per hour. It was a delay tactic I?m sure and by the time we got to the holding pens, I could only see the last of my cattle being loaded. I wanted to check the condition of the cattle because when you drive them with helicopters, it makes them panic.

"I tried to go over there, but they told me if I went one inch off the county road, they would arrest me. For what? They were the ones stealing cattle," Dann said.

BLM officials said the livestock would be taken to a holding facility north of Reno, about a six-hour drive from Crescent Valley and auctioned off to the highest bidder.

Nevada Livestock Association chairman David Holmgren and his wife, who also were on the scene, called the situation "further cattle rustling" by the BLM.

"We?re the cattlemen?s voice against the unlawful seizures of cattle in Nevada," Holmgren said. "Our brand law has been violated, grand larceny of the Dann cattle is being committed and the right to due process of law is a joke right now. We plan to stand against this threat to our liberty with the Western Shoshone people."

Many traditional Western Shoshone people and their legal counsel hold firm that the land is still Western Shoshone land according to the Treaty of Ruby Valley. The treaty granted access and rights of passage to settlers, but never relinquished ownership.

The BLM insists -- but cannot prove to the Shoshones? satisfaction -- that the land is "public land" taken by gradual encroachment over the years.

"If they took it by gradual encroachment, where are all those people who encroached?" asked Carrie Dann. "The only people living out here are Indians. What they are doing now is actually the gradual encroachment they talked about 100 years ago."

Dann said the motive for harassing them is to "beat down" the traditional Shoshone leaders and make an example of them to show other Indian people what will happen if they stand up for their rights.

"Senator Harry Reid has legislation in Congress to pay off the Indians for 15 cents an acre and destroy our claim to the land. Then with Senate bill 719, he wants to privatize the land and sell it to the highest bidders which will be the multi-national gold mining companies. But this is our land and we are going to fight for it."

Mary Dann said, "We?ve repeatedly asked the federal government for Western Shoshone land transfer documents. If our ancestors agreed to give up or sell this land, we would respect the government. But the federal agencies have never been able to show us any document giving away the land. This is still our homeland."

A recent report by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States, of which the U.S. is a member, found that the United States is violating the human and civil rights of Western Shoshone people.

The report noted that the U.S. is using illegitimate means to claim ownership and control of Western Shoshone land. It recommended a remedy that will respect the Western Shoshone?s rights to the land.

This article can be found at  http://IndianCountry.com/?1032819614

For more information, contact the Western Shoshone Defense Project at 775-468-0230, e-mail:  wsdp@igc.org or Deborah Schaaf at the Indian Law Resource Center at 406-449-2006.

Please call the following U.S. officials immediately and ask them to cease and desist from their efforts to punish Western Shoshone citizens by fines and confiscation for the act of grazing on ancestral lands. Ask why grazing lands were never included as part of the various W. Shoshone reservations.

-Elko BLM Field Manager Helen Hankins (775)-753-0200
-Nevada State BLM Director Robert Abbey (775)-861-6400
-Secretary of Interior Gale Norton (202)-208-3100


It is especially important to communicate ASAP to members of Congress on the present and impending danger of confiscations and because of the pending Shoshone Claims Distribution Legislation. If you have the time, try setting up a meeting with them or their staff. As the bill currently is sitting before the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, it is especially important to communicate with your Senators if they sit on this committee.

Offices for all Congressional members can be reached through the capital switchboard at 202-224-3121
Senate Committee on Indian Affairs
838 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
202-224-2251  http://www.senate.gov/

Democrats
Daniel K. Inouye, Chairman Hawaii
Kent Conrad North Dakota
Harry Reid Nevada
Daniel K. Akaka Hawaii
Paul Wellstone Minnesota
Byron L. Dorgan North Dakota
Tim Johnson South Dakota
Maria Cantwell Washington
Republicans
Ben Nighthorse Campbell, Vice-Chairman Colorado
Frank H. Murkowski Alaska
John McCain Arizona
Pete V. Domenici New Mexico
Craig Thomas Wyoming
Orrin G. Hatch Utah
James Inhofe Oklahoma


Some suggested points to make include:

· The ongoing confiscations clearly demonstrate why S 958 will not provide relief to the Western Shoshone because it does nothing to resolve the need for an adequate land base for all W. Shoshone communities. In the Treaty of Ruby Valley , the Shoshone agreed to become agriculturists and herdsmen, yet the government will not recognize any land for these purposes.
· Any legislation concerning the Western Shoshone must be developed with the consent and participation of Western Shoshone leadership, both Traditional and Federally Recognized Councils.
· Any legislation concerning distribution of Claims money must make clear the money is for past damages which do not include title or rights to the land. Language in any bill should explicitly override the provision of the Indian Claims Commission Act which precludes the exercise of rights connected to lands being compensated for.
· A one time cash payment suggests that only the current generation of Western Shoshone is important and leaves nothing for the future generations.
·Cash payments do nothing to change the conditions which have left the Western Shoshone without land or resources. Any legislative solution must provide an adequate land base for the cultural and economic survival of all Western Shoshone communities. Legislation should reaffirm the Treaty of Peace and Friendship.

3. Contact the WSDP to get on the Alert List in the Event that the BLM continues with the planned confiscation of Shoshone livestock. People willing to participate in non-violent, direct action, as well as documentation (photo, audio, and video) are needed. We are not asking for you to come here now, but would like to know who could come out to Northeast Nevada in the unhappy event of a confrontation. Remember, the Western Shoshone remain committed to the Treaty of Peace and Friendship. Firearms, Drugs, and Alcohol are strictly forbidden!


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