Steven Newcomb: Gradual stealing of Western Shoshone land

Steven Newcomb explores the convoluted logic behind the gradual stealing of lands promised to the Western Shoshone Nation by the 1863 Treaty of Ruby Valley:
Cliven Bundy’s dispute with the Bureau of Land Management has brought the Western Shoshone Nation and the 1863 Treaty of Ruby Valley back into focus. Mary and Carrie Dann, Raymond Yowell, and Myron Tybo had horses and cattle stolen by the Bureau of Land Management for grazing their livestock on Western Shoshone treaty lands without a federal grazing permit, which the Western Shoshone viewed as not required because of the Ruby Valley Treaty. The current Bundy dispute with the BLM has reminded many of us of those contentious days back in 2002, even though in most ways there is no basis for comparison.

Although the Bundy ranch is not in the Western Shoshone territory, the U.S. government has previously claimed that the establishment of such non-Indian ranches was one of the ways that Western Shoshone “aboriginal title” was gradually “extinguished.” This is part of something the United States Indian Claims Commission creatively and falsely called “gradual encroachment,” or, in other words, “gradual stealing.”

The deceptive nature of the United States government’s treatment of Indian nations generally comes into sharp focus when one examines the abusive and dominating manner in which the U.S. has treated the Western Shoshone Nation. This point is made exceedingly well in the classic film by Joel Freedman, “To Protect Mother Earth,” which was the sequel to “Broken Treaty at Battle Mountain.”

Get the Story:
Steven Newcomb: Convoluted U.S. ‘Logic’ About the Western Shoshone Nation and Its Territory (Indian Country Today 4/23)