This is an interesting issue, especially so considering that one of the reasons we were told war was necessary with Iraq was Hussein's treatment of minority groups. The United States government continues to wage war against the First Nations of Turtle Island (North American for any wasicuns who may be reading this). The government claims to promote and guarantee religious freedom, but this seems to only apply if you happen to be Christian. The Original People, Cultures, Religions and Languages of Turtle Island continue to be eradicated with every increasing zeal and efficiency by the great machines of the United States government.
That's perhaps one reason why G.W. cannot call the Israeli government to task for their attempts to ethnically cleanse the West Bank and the Gaza Strip: he's quite guilty of the same crimes here on Turtle Island!
ICT [2004/05/20] Western Shoshone: War is not just in Iraq
Posted: May 20, 2004 - 3:30pm EST
by: Brenda Norrell / Southwest Staff Reporter / Indian Country Today
CRESCENT VALLEY, Nev. - United States Congressmen are mirroring the same deceptive tactics in Western Shoshone territory as in Iraq, said Western Shoshone as legislation was pushed to compensate tribal members for Aboriginal land in an effort to seize it and open it up for mining, energy and nuclear corporations.
While Western Shoshone maintain their Aboriginal land claim secured by the Treaty of Ruby Valley of 1863, their sacred Yucca Mountain is being gutted for nuclear dumping, their horses and cattle seized to make way for geothermal industries and the earth mutilated for gold extraction.
"If the war on terrorism is about protecting this country, then why is our own government trying to take away our homelands?" said Mary McCloud, Western Shoshone elder.
"Our Indian children are over in Iraq supposedly fighting for their country. And yet our Nevada Congressional leaders through the Western Shoshone Distribution Act are trying to take away the Western Shoshone homeland.
"What are our Shoshone kids going to come back to? What are they fighting for?" McCloud said.
Current legislation before the United States Congress, the Western Shoshone Distribution Bill, H.R. 884/S. 618, is described by tribal members as an attempt to strip away U.S. treaty obligations and their connections to their homeland with a one time payment of cents per acre.
"Under the guise of bi-partisanship, Senator Harry Reid and Congressman Jim Gibbons are once again gearing up to force this one time payment on the Western Shoshone people for 24 million acres of land at approximately 15 cents an acre," said Julie Fishel of the Western Shoshone Defense Project.
Reid is Democrat and Gibbons is Republican.
Fishel said the push for passage of the distribution bill is being made at the same time that Gibbons is sponsoring other legislation, H.R. 2869 and H.R. 2772, which would open Shoshone lands to privatization by multinational mining companies and massive geothermal energy development, with no provision for Western Shoshone interests or concerns.
Simultaneously, the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste repository is being pushed forward, regardless of whistleblowers exposing inherent dangers.
Western Shoshone elders are the victims of the schemes to seize the land. During May, Robert Healy Sr., Mary Dann and Carrie Dann received federal notices of intent to impound their livestock.
Carrie Dann said it is domestic terrorism designed to steal the dignity of the people. "Economically we were a self-sustaining people. With these recent actions stealing our livelihood we are now facing economic starvation designed to remove us from our lands. To me, that is terrorism. Domestic terrorism. This behavior is designed to steal our dignity, our honor and to make us feel that we are less than or lower than human - we are treated like animals. We are being dehumanized."
Dann said the distribution bill is an unconstitutional, unjust and unwanted payment. "As Western Shoshone, we have been fighting for many years to simply remain who we are - Western Shoshone. The earth is our mother and land provides us with life, like the water and the air. To take this land from us will be to lead us into a spiritual death.
The distribution bill could come up for a vote in the U.S. House in May or June. The fear of many Western Shoshone people and the majority of Councils is that money is being used by Congress to silence Western Shoshone concerns over U.S. violations of the Treaty of Ruby Valley.
By treaty, Western Shoshone maintain their ancestral land base - where they still live and pray - approximately 24 million acres of land, most of which the U.S. classifies as "public" lands.
Steven Newcomb, Shawnee/Lenape co-founder and co-director of the Indigenous Law Institute, said neither Congressman Gibbons nor Senator Reid wants to address Western Shoshone land rights based on the 1863 Treaty of Ruby Valley.
"After personally researching the Indian Claims Commission records in the Western Shoshone case, I could not find one shred of historical documentation to support the ‘finding’ that Western Shoshone lands described in the Ruby Valley Treaty were ever ‘taken’ by ‘gradual encroachment,’" Newcomb said.
In order to force the people off the land, the Department of Interior has conducted armed roundups of Western Shoshone livestock for the past two years. Western Shoshone say the beneficiaries of this theft of Aboriginal Shoshone lands are the mining, energy and nuclear industries.
Western Shoshone land encompasses the world’s third largest production of gold, cited in 1999 as the number one investment opportunity for mineral extraction companies. In the past 40 years, $26 billion dollars in gold has been extracted from Western Shoshone aboriginal lands defined by treaty.
Open pit cyanide leach mining for gold is destroying the water and air, said Carrie Dann. Multinational gold companies Kennecott, Placer Dome, Barrick and Newmont and others, take the water out of the water table at a rate of 30 to 70 thousand gallons of water per minute.
One Nevada politician described these lands as the next "Saudi Arabia" of geothermal energy production.
If that wasn’t enough abuse, the U.S. has selected the land for nuclear dumping at Yucca Mountain, the proposed site of the nation’s nuclear waste repository and the Nevada Test Site. The Bush administration has referenced possible renewed nuclear weapons testing.
Although one excuse for the war in Iraq was the violation of human rights, Western Shoshone point out that the United States government abuses its indigenous peoples at home.
Last year, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights found that with regard to the Western Shoshone, the U.S. is currently in violation of rights to property, due process and equality under the law. In the fall of 2003, a federal lawsuit was filed on behalf of Western Shoshone in the U.S. District Court in Washington. (Western Shoshone, et al. v. U.S. Case No. 03-CV-2009).
It has been a long fight for Western Shoshone elders, and in the eyes of the world, they are winners.
McCloud said, "The elders before us stood up for life and their understanding of the treaty and this elder and others still stand for the treaty and life."
This article can be found at http://www.indiancountry.com/?1085081562