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How Did I Miss That? Militia: God Gave Land to Settlers, Not Shoshone

This piece was modified on 4/23/14. Ian Zabarte, Western Shoshone, indicates that Cliven Bundy's ranch is in Southern Paiute territory, not Western Shoshone, as previously stated.

Big news that went on all week was the confrontation between the federal government and the “militia movement” over the removal of cattle belonging to Mormon “pioneer” Cliven Bundy from federal land. Bundy has not paid his grazing fees for 20 years. Why? His ancestors settled those lands in the 19th century. “Time immemorial,” my Cousin Ray Sixkiller pointed out, “means different things to different people.”

The 68-year-old Bundy recognizes no federal authority in the matter. If he owed grazing fees, he claimed they would be owed to the state of Nevada, which entered the United States on Halloween, 1864. Because the Civil War was going on, the Nevada Constitution contained a “paramount allegiance clause,” which is seriously inconvenient for anybody claiming, as Bundy does, a right to ignore the feds.

The year before Nevada was admitted, the US signed the Treaty of Ruby Valley, which recognized the Western Shoshone as owners of large portions of their original territory. In 1979, the Indian Claims Commission awarded the Shoshone $26 million in compensation for land lost to “settler encroachment” while the federal government looked the other way. Those encroaching settlers would be who Cliven Bundy cites today as originators of his right to graze his cattle.

The Shoshone refused the money. They had not agreed to sell the land. They did not agree that the land should be used for nuclear testing. Carrie and Mary Dann were Shoshone elders who stood up to the abuse. Mary walked on at age 82, in 2005. The 81-year-old Carrie was last arrested in 2007, protesting against the use of Shoshone land for nuclear weapons research.

The Dann Sisters grazed their cattle on land the Bureau of Land Management claimed since 1973, refusing to pay grazing fees based on the Treaty of Ruby Valley, Article VI of the US Constitution, and a report by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States that found the US to be cheating the Shoshone.

In 1992 and again in 2002, armed BLM posses rounded up the Dann Sisters’ cattle and sold them for grazing fees. The New York Times reported in 2002 that the Dann Sisters had been fined $3 million for “trespass.”

When a BLM posse came to round up Cliven Bundy’s cattle, armed “patriots” rode to the rescue. The BLM got about 400 head of Bundy’s cattle and Bundy got about as many supporters, many of them armed, from as far away as Montana. The Washington Post reported on April 10 that a sign at the entrance to the protest camp read “MILITA SIGHN IN.” Cousin Ray said he hoped their shooting was no better than their spelling.

Protestor Richard Mack, a former Arizona Sheriff, told a Fox News camera that the plan was “to put all the women up at the front. If they are going to start shooting, it’s going to be women that are going to be televised all across the world getting shot by these rogue federal officers.”

On April 12, the BLM postponed the circus, giving Bundy’s cattle back and leaving Cousin Ray to wonder where all these lovers of law and liberty were when the women up front were Carrie and Mary Dann?

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported that Randy Gray, 27, is the first of four men to be sentenced for selling counterfeit guitars to pawnshops nationwide. The fakes were represented as Martins, Gibsons, and Guilds—“90 percent Martins,” according to a federal prosecutor. Cousin Ray was horrified. “Fake guitars? Is nothing sacred?”

The good news is that the brilliant satirist Stephen Colbert has been tapped to replace David Letterman. The bad news is that Colbert will appear as himself rather than in character as the right wing blowhard. Military Times reported that the Colbert pick was endorsed by retired Gen. David Petraeus because of Colbert’s service entertaining the troops in Iraq. “Or it might have been,” Cousin Ray speculated, “because Colbert never made fun of Petraeus’s inability to keep his affair secret.”

Speaking of right wing blowhards, Rush Limbaugh accused that when CBS picked Colbert it, “declared war on the heartland of America.” If so, it’s an interesting choice, since CBS has the older white male demographic that is the Republican base sewed up. They get their entertainment from CBS and their news from Fox. Cousin Ray pointed out that kids get their entertainment from Fox and their news from The Comedy Channel.

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A more violent right wing blowhard, and former Grand Dragon of the KKK, set out to kill some Jews at a Jewish community center in a suburb of Kansas City. Between that and a Jewish retirement home, the Aryan superman managed to kill one child and two elders—two Methodists and a Catholic—before being hauled off in a police car shouting “Heil Hitler!”

In other Holy War news, the so-called “American jihadi,” Eric Harroun, has died of a reported overdose in Phoenix, Arizona, while awaiting the end of a three-year parole so he could go back to Syria and fight. The government had put him on trial for joining Jabhat al-Nusra, a Syrian arm of Al Qaeda. He copped a plea to a lesser charge when the government’s own evidence showed that he had nothing to do with Al Qaeda and was in fact fighting on the same side the US has taken publicly, against the dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad.

The New York Times reported that Syria will hold elections this year and for the first time somebody to be named later will be on the ballot against Bashar al-Assad, who is expected to win in spite of the fact some 9 million Syrians have been driven from their homes by civil war. “There is no truth to the rumor,” Cousin Ray said, “that the GOP is sending consultants on voter suppression to teach Assad how to do it less violently.”

The Wall Street Journal reported on the craze sweeping Saudi Arabia, raqsat al-batriq. In English, the “penguin dance.” It’s a line dance that bears a resemblance to the Hokey Pokey. The Journal described it “sidekick-sidekick, bunny hop.” Men and women in separate lines. “There is no truth the rumor,” Cousin Ray cautioned, “that a dance craze is sweeping Antarctica called The Camel.”

Roberto Macedo, an economist at the University of São Paulo, commented on an unfinished museum of extraterrestrials, that it “is an insult to both extraterrestrials and the terrestrial beings like ourselves who foot the bill for yet another project failing to deliver.” According to the Sunday Times, it may be more important than insulting ET that many amenities for the World Cup in Brazil are so far behind they will not be finished until after the games are played this summer.

The outgoing County Prosecutor in Missoula, MT, is expressing outrage that the Justice Department criticized his office for taking up only 14 of 85 sexual assault cases referred by the police. Cousin Ray suggested that the police are “failing to calculate the football discount” in the same manner as other players in the system.

ABC News reported that Edmond Aviv, 62, was OK with the 15 days in jail, the anger management classes, and the letter of apology after he was convicted of disorderly conduct for addressing racial slurs to a white neighbor who has adopted blacks, spitting on her, and smearing feces on the wheelchair ramp the one with cerebral palsy uses. However, Aviv commented on the requirement that he display a sign for five hours on a public street reading “I am a bully”: “The judge destroyed me. This isn’t fair at all.”

On the civil side of the docket, The Houston Chronicle reported that Tiffany Adams, 30, has filed a lawsuit alleging that she lost both her legs as a result of an accident caused by the faulty ignition switches in the news lately. She got her recall notice from General Motors two months after the accident.

Republican Joe Scarborough, on the April 14 Morning Joe, completely lost his composure and howled with laughter until tears flowed over tape of Republican Donald Trump suggesting that undocumented workers cross the US border “for sex.” The Donald, Cousin Ray suggested, “is an authority on the price of sex.”

At the same meeting, put on by Citizens United and Americans for Prosperity, which is to say the Koch Brothers, Sen. Ted Cruz called once more for abolition of the IRS. Rand Paul shocked some by advocating an end to corporate welfare and pointing out that prisons are full of darker skinned people because “you (the folks in the room) get better lawyers.” Jeb Bush was not invited but his positions on immigration reform and education were excoriated anyway, and Business Insider reported that Bush was booed in absentia. Cousin Ray is an old timey Republican, and he hasn’t been happy lately. “You know, “ he opined, “the GOP would have a chance if the Koch Brothers would quit funding the clown car.”

The New York Times carried a report from Eureka (California) High School, one of four public high schools and two elementary schools to offer Yurok language classes. A majority of the students in the class were not Yurok. Cousin Ray was clipping this piece to send to Cherokee Nation citizens who complained about non-Cherokees taking language courses in the Oklahoma public schools funded by the Cherokee government.

The Anchorage Daily News reported on April 15 that the Westboro Baptist Church announced plans to picket two locations in the area, a church WBC tagged as “lukewarm Christians,” to which they said “God H8s lukewarm,” and the Alaska Native Heritage Center, to which they said “God hates your idols.” A plan to feed the WBC demonstrators to polar bears was quickly quashed by federal officials, who claimed they could not allow “poisoning a threatened species.”

Surprising very few Indians, the Justice Department released a report accusing the Albuquerque Police Department of a longstanding pattern of using excessive force. The focus was on 37 shooting incidents that killed 23 and wounded 14, but the report extended to a pattern of beatings and abuse.

The Wall Street Journal reported that a Pakistani court has dropped charges of attempted murder, obstructing a public official, and assault on a public official against a nine-month-old baby. Charges were dropped after a wave of public ridicule set off by photos of the baby crying as he was fingerprinted while in his grandfather’s lap. The baby allegedly participated in throwing rocks at police, who were conducting a raid on his family over an unpaid gas bill. Cousin Ray complained, “They would have shot the kid if the same thing happened in Albuquerque.”