WASHINGTON, D.C. -- An Indian Omnibus Bill with many needed provisions for Indian country passed Congress Nov. 22 without including the controversial payout for the Western Shoshone. But the payout, desired by many tribal members who need the money but vehemently opposed by traditionals and tribal leaders who say it will undercut any hope of winning a land base, did not fail for lack of trying by U. S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev.
A release from the Western Shoshone Defense Project tells the story:
S. 958 : One last gasp... In a Late Night Maneuver, Senator Reid Makes a Failed Attempt to Revive the Western Shoshone Distribution Bill Without Addressing the Real Issues.
Despite repeated requests, Senator Reid has yet to meet with Western Shoshone leadership to discuss land and resources and sustainable economic development for the Western Shoshone people.
S. 958, the Western Shoshone Distribution Bill failed in the House the week of Nov. 11 - sending a sigh of relief through Shoshone country. Despite this opportunity to meet with Western Shoshone leadership and to discuss the issue of culturally and economically adequate land and resources, Sen. Reid attempted once again to impose the "money-only" solution. The Western Shoshone Defense Project received information early Nov. 22 that Senator Reid attempted to reinsert the Western Shoshone Distribution Bill into the Omnibus Package late Nov. 20.
The Indian Omnibus Bill, S.2711, is formally called the Indian Programs Reauthorization and Technical Amendments Act of 2002. The Omnibus Bill contains many provisions that positively affect tribes across the country ? for example, appropriations authorizations and an Indian Alcohol and Substance Abuse Prevention Program. For reasons not yet confirmed, the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs declined Reid's request. The Omnibus Bill passed in the Senate Nov. 21, without S. 958, and is scheduled to go before the House on its unanimous consent calendar in today's pro forma session.
[The bill did pass on a voice vote.]
This recent action, combined with his refusal to talk with Western Shoshone leadership and his failure to give any content or legislative commitment to his stated promise to address land issues draws into question the sincerity of that promise.