Appeals court won't reopen Western Shoshone case
The Federal Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday refused to reopen the federal government's taking of 80 million acres of Western Shoshone land.

In 1972, the Indian Claims Commission awarded $26 million to the Western Shoshone people for the loss of the land. The award was controversial because tribal leaders felt they were cheated out of the ability to reclaim their land, which they said was promised to them under the 1863 Treaty of Ruby Valley.

The Western Shoshone National Council, along with several tribes, sought to reopen the award. They also sought an accounting of the revenues that were generated on the land.

In the meantime, Congress passed a bill to distribute the ICC award, which has grown to over $145 million. Some tribal activists and some tribal leaders objected to the legislation.

As a result, the Federal Circuit said the law precluded the challenge. The court also said the plaintiffs waited too long after the ICC award to bring the case.

Separately, the court supported the government's contention that the Ruby Valley treaty never reserved or conveyed land to the Western Shoshone people.

Court Decision:
Western Shoshone National Council v. US (May 22, 2008)

Western Shoshone Claims Distribution Act:
Bill Report | H.R.884 | S.618

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