The Senate Indian Affairs committee has suddenly cancelled a hearing scheduled for March 21 on a controversial bill to extinguish the Nevada land claims of the Western Shoshone tribe. The hearing was to feature witnesses supporting Senate Bill 958, sponsored by Sen. Harry Reid, D.-Nev., that would distribute $128.8 million awarded to 'the Western Shoshone identifiable group' by the Indian Claims Commission in 1979. The original award was meant to end tribal claims to its ancestral land in Nevada, which it says were never ceded by treaty.
Several tribal bands have vehemently opposed the payout, although other members have said they want the money and are willing to abandon the land claim. The witness list for the hearing heavily favored those supporting the bill. Opponents such as the Dann sisters, Carrie and Mary, and the veteran writer and activist Vine Deloria had applied to testify but had not been added to the list by the time the Committee announced the cancellation in mid afternoon March 20.
Chief Raymond Yowell of the Western Shoshone National Council, which opposed the bill, announced a press conference for March 21, at the time the hearing would have been taking place.