Environment | Opinion

Ian Zabarte: Western Shoshone territory in Nevada is not for sale

A view of Yucca Mountain in Nevada. Photo from Department of Energy

Ian Zabarte explains why the Western Shoshone people oppose the placement of the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository on lands in Nevada that were promised to them by treaty:
I am a board member of the Native Community Action Council, a “party with standing” in the licensing proceedings that contends, the DOE cannot prove ownership of Yucca Mountain. This significant encumbrance precludes licensing by the NRC. I am also a board member of Poohabah, a Western Shoshone religious institution situated along the Amargosa River at Tecopa as it turns toward Timbisha at Furnace Creek. Newe spiritual practices, an ongoing living lifeway of Poohabah, are impacted and further threatened by the proposed Yucca Mountain project. We receive no project funding for our participation.

The government of Newe Sogobia does not consent to the inclusion of any part of our treaty defined property into the boundaries or jurisdiction of the United States or any state or territory. The Newe are a spiritual people that combine religious belief and government and as such, the government of Newe Sogobia is the embodiment of the Western Shoshone land and people. Our ethnic identity is Newe Sogobia, literally translated, “the Peoples Mother Earth.”

We informed the US Department of the Interior that Newe Sogobia is not for sale and that Yucca Mountain is not BLM land. We informed the EPA that the environmental radiation protection standards for Yucca Mountain are not protective of Newe Sogobia and that our exposure would be significantly higher because of lifestyle differences, our living lifeways that include longstanding religious practices, tribal laws, custom and our traditions. We informed the DOE through tribal Spiritual Leader Corbin Harney that our land and people are being destroyed by the testing of weapons of mass destruction and the development of Yucca Mountain as a high-level nuclear waste repository. Newe Sogobia cannot endure an increased burden of risk from any source because of our past exposure to fallout from nuclear weapons testing.

Get the Story:
Ian Zabarte: The Sale of Yucca Mountain Was an Attack (Indian Country Today 10/2)

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