US Gov’t Land Grab and the Indian Treaty of Peace (Peace for who?)
In order to know where we are heading, we have to remember where we’ve been. Thus, the importance of history repeating itself.
The Bundy Ranch stand-off in Southern Nevada isn’t the first public fight over property rights in Nevada. A battle between the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Western Shoshone Indian tribe in Northeast Nevada ended with far different results.
The Treaty of Peace and Friendship, also known more formally as the Treaty of Ruby Valley, signed in 1863 between the federal government and the Western Shoshone tribe included the use of 43,000 square miles of territory extending north from the deserts of Southern California, across much of Nevada, and into South central Idaho, and East into Utah.
The treaty gave Shoshone permanent use of the land in exchange for “peace,” so that the “Union of the United States” in the midst of Civil War, could guarantee the flow of gold out of California to points East.
Shoshones agreed to end warfare with settlers and the U.S. and to allow transportation and telegraph wires through its territory.
Shoshone say the 1863 treaty did not sell their land to a government, but instead secured their rights to own and occupy. However in 1934, the federal government passed the Indian Reorganization Act, saying that federal recognition and support would depend on the creation of ‘tribal’ governments based on a model devised by the Secretary of the Interior.
Unfamiliar forms of governance were then superimposed on traditional Shoshone decision-making, creating artificial divisions and aggravating existing disputes. In 1946 an act of Congress created the Indian Claims Commission, to investigate suits by Native Americans against the US for illegitimate taking of their land.
In 1962, the Commission ruled against a Shoshone suit stating: “The Indian title to the Western Shoshone land was extinguished by the gradual encroachment of settlers and others and by the acquisition, disposition or taking of said lands by the US for its own use and benefit or that of its citizens.”
In 1966, without the participation of the Western Shoshone people, the federal government arbitrarily set July 1, 1872, as the date of valuation for Western Shoshone land and determined that compensation should be paid for 24 million acres. The federal government paid the tribe $26 million in 1983 through a trust, or $1.08 per acre. Today the amount is $250 to $1,000 per acre. Furthermore, the tribe has yet to draw on any of the money.
The BLM says it’s mission it to protect the environment. In the Bundy case, they said they were protecting turtles. Later we find they were actually killing them! And then we discover they shot and killed Bundy’s cattle and buried them in mass graves. In the case of the Shoshone Indian cattle and horses removed, they let hundreds of them starve to death including the baby horses.
See the Dann sisters, Shoshone Indians, story on what the BLM did to them.
See the great video documentary of the Dann sisters, Shoshone Indians, and their attack by the US Gov’t that continues today.
See our complete set of stories related to land being taking by our government, the Land Grab by the US Government.
Credit: Tom Darby, Real Media