An alternate view of ICC/BLM overreach

by Ian Frick   10 hrs ago : Dec. 6th, 2016 ·
In 1863, the U.S. government signed the Ruby Valley Treaty with the Western Shoshone nation, who laid claim to 26 million acres of land in Nevada, Idaho, and Utah. The Shoshone tribe and the U.S. government agreed that settlers and cowboys had access to the land, but not title. But in the 1970s, the federal Indian Claims Commission ruled that the land no longer belonged to the Shoshone nation due to “gradual encroachment” of white settlers and ranchers. The government seized the land and put $26 million into an account meant for the Shoshone nation in 1979, but the tribe turned down the money, saying they never agreed to sell their land.

The Supreme Court gave its blessing to the Indian Claims Commission ruling, claiming that the Shoshone had no claim to the land since the tribe had been paid $26 million. Dann sisters stopped paying grazing fees out of protest in 1973, saying they only honored the Ruby Valley Treaty, and the BLM responded by slapping the sisters with a series of fines totalling $3 million in 1998. Federal officials called for the roundup of the Danns’ horses and cattle, saying they were trespassing on federal land.

”Trespass? Who the hell gave them the land anyway?” Mary Dann said in an interview with the New York Times. ”When I trespass, it’s when I wander into Paiute territory.”

In September of 2001, the government sent in the cavalry to show it was serious about its claim to the Shoshone tract:

The government considers it public land, and to drive the point home, 40 agents from the Bureau of Land Management descended on the Danns’ ranch in September, heavily armed and fortified with helicopters, and confiscated 232 cattle, which were later sold.

The sisters and their supporters argue that their tribe never legally ceded these range lands. Though the federal government controls 85 percent of Nevada, they contend that it has no legitimate title to the land — or the gold, water, oil and geothermal energy beneath it.

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