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Distribution bill for Western Shoshone is genocide

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FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - Western Shoshone Carrie Dann said a proposed U.S. distribution bill for payments of ancestral land is genocide and warned non-Indians that they would be the next ones that the United States strips of their rights.

"What is going on today is genocide of our spiritual and cultural ways. You should not let this genocide happen because you might be the next one in line," Dann said during an address in downtown Flagstaff. "What happened to us will happen to you someday. There is already one act against you, it is called the Patriot Act."

Delivering a fiery speech, Dann said the Western Shoshone Distribution Bill (H.R. 884) has passed the U.S. Senate and is now in the U.S. House of Representatives.

"They want to pay 15 cents an acre to legitimize the theft against us. We are facing genocide in the Senate and the House."

Naming Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., as the leader of the assault on Western Shoshone, she said, "He represents the big corporations."

While the United States attempts to seize Western Shoshone land for corporate greed, Dann said Mother Earth has given everything to sustain life, even the tiny creatures like the bugs have been nurtured at the breast of Mother Earth.

Yet, to non-Indians, she said, "I am characterized as a pagan, a savage."

Dann said the United States seized Western Shoshone land for the Nevada Test Site and the Nuclear Waste Repository at Yucca Mountain. Now corporations are proceeding with open pit cyanide leach gold mining. The largest vein of gold in the United States has been discovered on the Western Shoshone's sacred mountain, the place of Creation.

"They are pumping out the essence of life so the multi-national corporations can get richer." She said water is being used for gold mining and nuclear testing is poisoning water.

"Some of the springs I used to drink from say, 'Do not drink the water.' We need help to protect the babies still in the Earth that haven't come out yet. If this degradation continues, there will not be a future for anyone."

Newe (Western Shoshone) are struggling to protect their Newe Sogobia (homelands) for future generations.

Dann said what was done to American Indians, was also done in Iraq. "They don't tell you how many children they have killed; they don't tell you how many innocent people they have killed."

Drawing a parallel with the slaughter of American Indians, Dann said between 1492 and the present day, acts of genocide against American Indians resulted in the death of all but 2 percent of the American Indian population.

"That is a bad history," Dann said.

She said neither Indians nor non-Indians are taught the history of genocide in schools. The history books do not tell about the smallpox.

Dann, however, remembers when she was young, hearing the old ones talk about the time when the people died of small pox.

Now, she said their land is seized and sold as federal land to corporations for $2.50 an acre to mine gold. This land is worth billions.

Dann's niece Mary Gibson, and Julie Fishel, attorney for the Western Shoshone Defense Project, joined Dann to make the presentation.

Gibson said there have been three roundups and seizures of the Dann's horses since 1992. "It was the modern-day Calvary, it was very frightening."

Gibson said it created images of what her ancestors went through when they were chased and murdered by the Calvary. "I feel these corporations have a lot to do with the roundups of Carrie and Mary's horses."

She said the United States does not care about Indian people, but the people will endure.

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"It is Indian country. There are many, many Indian people who do not give up."

Fishel said the United States does not want the American public or the international community to know that the Western Shoshone's 1863 Treaty of Ruby Valley is still in effect.

Fishel said the United States wants to conceal the fact that Western Shoshone land was taken for nuclear testing, nuclear waste storage and corporate gold mining by manipulations of the U.S. Justice system and the deceit of the U.S. Interior who was complicit in the theft of Shoshone land and violated its position as trustee.

The United States fears that the international community will discover that it violated the same human rights it claims to uphold by military force in other countries of the world. She said their governments who work in concert with corporations abuse the rights of indigenous. "Multi-nationals are repeating this pattern in other parts of the world."

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the Western Shoshone and upheld their right to their land. Then, in order to subvert justice, the Indian Claims Commission was used in an attempt to do away with the high court's ruling.

Fishel said when the U.S. Interior, as trustee of the Western Shoshone, received money for Western Shoshone land in 1979, it was a violation.

"Who did they pay? They paid themselves."

Referring to the Indian Claims Commission, Dann said the Commission attempted to diminish the Western Shoshone people. "They said we are animals and migrate from place to place." Fishel pointed out that federal Indian law is based on Christianity and the racism that was set in place at the time

of colonialism.

She said the U.S. doesn't want to face international probes because it seized use of Western Shoshone illegally and never paid for the use for nuclear testing.

Further, Fishel said the Dann's and Western Shoshone are entitled to other damages. "They were subjected to psychological torture."

As gold companies seize Indian lands in South America, Fishel said the public is kept in a fog.

Gibson added, "There is no justice for Indian people in the United States." She said Indian people need an international legal forum.

Fishel pointed out that the United Nations is comprised of nation member states that are also abusing indigenous peoples.

"They are all complicit in the same crime."

Fishel said the nations of the world need to turn to traditional indigenous peoples for guidance.

Dann said the scenario of Western Shoshone land has been mirrored in the seizure of Black Mesa for coal mining. Dann praised Navajos for standing firm against forced relocation.

Danny Blackgoat, son of the late Roberta Blackgoat, and Marie Gladue, both of Big Mountain, thanked Dann for her words. Gladue said her family lives with the scars of fighting for justice. While non-indigenous people think they live in a country of justice, she said, "It is an illusion."

The presentation at the Federated Church community room in downtown Flagstaff began with the documentary "To Defend Mother Earth," the story of the Dann's struggle produced by Joel Freedman and narrated by Robert Redford. The video includes scenes of the arrest of Tim Dann, for shooting a mule deer to feed his family, and arrest of Western Shoshone leaders and elders on ancestral land in protest of nuclear testing.

"Who will speak for the land?" asks narrator Robert Redford.

Dann welcomed visitors to the Western Shoshone spring gathering May 14 - 16.

Gibson said it is the traditional Indian elders that give her strength. "They know their truth and they stand on their truth."