Western Shoshone leader dies at 87
RENO, Nev. (AP) - Corbin Harney, a spiritual leader of the Western Shoshone who challenged the federal government - and once his own tribe - to oppose nuclear weapons on aboriginal land has died at the age of 87.
Harney, a fixture at anti-nuclear rallies, died July 10 of complications from cancer near Santa Rosa, Calif., where he had hoped to finish a book, according to his family.
''We have truly lost a lot,'' said his nephew, Santiago Lozada, who was with him when he died.
''Corbin was a World War II veteran and was known around the world for his activism against radioactivity and nuclear weapons,'' said Robert Hager, Reno-based lawyer for the Western Shoshone tribe. ''He's irreplaceable to the Western Shoshone nation.''
''He was someone who just had this gentle spirit but a steely resolve that people should do the right thing,'' Hager said. ''He thought people would eventually come around and realize the harm people were doing to Mother Earth.''
Hager recalled that Harney bucked his own tribe when the federal government in the 1950s unearthed remains of Western Shoshone ancestors during digging for nuclear testing at the Nevada Test Site north of Las Vegas.
''He picked up the remains and gave them a decent burial,'' Hager said. ''He took a lot of flak from Western Shoshone leaders who said he should have nothing to do with the U.S. government. But I always respected Corbin for doing what, to the Western Shoshone, was not politically correct but in his mind was the right thing to do.''
Ian Zabarte, secretary of state for the Western Shoshone National Council, said Harney ''was always steadfast in trying to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons and guard the people against the threats and hazards that nuclear technology poses.''
Harney traveled around the world as a speaker and environmentalist. He received national and international awards and spoke before the United Nations in Geneva.
The family is completing funeral plans, but burial services will be at Battle Mountain Indian Community, where his wife, Marge, is buried.
He is survived by his daughter, two granddaughters, four grandsons, seven great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren.