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Action Alert – June 1, Western Shoshone “Distribution” Bill

Oppose the Western Shoshone Distribution Bill, S. 618/HR 884.

Nevada Congressmen Reid and Gibbons, Gale Norton and our "National Interests" have taken a page from the influential Koch boys of Wichita, who were caught stealing oil from impoverished tribes in Oklahoma. "We want our fair share, and that's ALL of it!"

It's 300 year old tradition in government: you sign treaties with the folks who rightly occupy the territory. Then you do whatever you please! And laugh all the way to the bank.

The Native American Rights Fund has taken Gale Norton to court THREE times and WON each time, yet the Interior Department continues to act illegally...no different from what they're doing with Western Shoshone. This is not government. This is tyranny masked as politics. So is passage of HR884, HR 2869, HR2772.
Action Alert - June 1, Western Shoshone "Distribution" Bill


Update - Western Shoshone "Distribution" Bill
Congressional Voting to begin at 6:30 PM tonight, June 1, 2004

What are you going to do to help stop the Largest Indian Land Theft in Modern History?

The highly controversial Western Shoshone Distribution Bill (S 618/HR 884) is on the House Suspension calendar for today, June 1, 2004, voting begins at 6:30 p.m. Only representatives present and voting count. Where does your representative stand on the issue? Will they be present on the floor and will they vote and make a statement on the record? Western Shoshone and supporters who made calls last week heard several misrepresentations from Congressional offices:

· Falsity: The bill is noncontroversial and that is why it is on the suspension calendar.

· Truth: The bill is highly controversial and the alleged "payment" has the been the center of a decades long struggle by the Western Shoshone Nation to retain their homeland, located throughout Nevada, California, Utah and Idaho - on lands the U.S. claims to be federal lands. The issue has gone all the way to the United Nations and the Organization of American States, with a 2003 Final Report in favor of the Western Shoshone, finding the U.S. in violation of rights to property, due process and equality under the law.

· Falsity: The bill contains an "opt out" provision allowing Western Shoshone who do not want to accept the money the choice of opting out of payment.

· Truth: There is no "opt out" provision in the bill. Once one individual accepts the money, "distribution" will be complete.

Below is What to Do, a complete "Fact vs. Fiction" sheet for your reference and for distribution to your representatives, and sample communications from Western Shoshone, ELists, and a Supporter. For more information or ways you can express your concerns, please go to:

" http://www.peaceforallnations.com/wsdpNOW.htm" or www.wsdp.org.

Again, WHAT TO DO:

1. Contact your local media and the media you listen to - they should be covering this!
2. Send the alert and the press release to your lists of friends and supporters - this should be a national movement to stop abuses against the native peoples of the United States. Get your organization(s) involved in this issue!
3. Contact your local Representatives (House number: 202-224-3121), www.house.gov and the following:

Speaker of the House: J. Dennis Hastert - 202-225-0600
Majority Leader: Tom DeLay - 202-225-4000
Democratic National Committee - 202-863-8000 (Why isn't this a national campaign issue?)
Republican National Committee - 202-863-8500 (Why isn't this a national campaign issue?)

Congresswoman Shelley Berkley
439 Cannon HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Fax: 202-225-3119
" http://www.house.gov/berkley"

(Nevada Congressional Representative who has not yet supported or opposed the bill - but does oppose Yucca Mountain. Her opposition to the bill would add tremendous weight.)

Congressman Dennis J. Kucinich Congresswoman Barbara Lee
Progressive Caucus Chair Progressive Caucus Co-Chair
1730 Longworth HOB 1724 Longworth HOB
Washington, DC 20515 Washington, D.C. 20515
Fax: 202-225-5745 Fax: 202-225-9817
" http://www.house.gov/kucinich/info/contact.htm" "mailto: barbara.lee@us.house.gov"
(The Progressive Caucus could take a stand against the bill.)

Congressman Elijah E. Cummings
Black Caucus Chair
1632 Longworth HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Fax: 202-225-3178
(The Black Caucus could take a stand against the bill.)

Congressman John Lewis
Black Caucus
34 Cannon HOB
Washington, D.C. 20515
Fax: 202-225-0351
(The Black Caucus could take a stand against the bill.)

And anyone else you may think could be persuasive in this issue.

Thank you for your continued support - what affects the native/indigenous peoples affects us all.

Statement by Western Shoshone:

Western Shoshone Land- "Silence is Golden if You Could Mine Your Own Business, As It Is Stated in Nevada".

Statement by Larson R. Bill (Western Shoshone), June 1, 2004.

I always thought Nevada was the Silver State, all of a sudden it's gold. The Western Shoshone Distribution Bill, S 618/HR 884 sure looks like hush money to me and other Western Shoshone. Why the push to pay us off? How much is it worth to a couple of senior congressmen and their corporate constituents to buy us off? How much is it worth to buy off or hush up constitutionally protected rights? Your guess is as good as ours - A few things we do know - and they all relate to money, lots of money - except when it comes to the Western Shoshone:

· THE WESTERN SHOSHONE: The Western Shoshone people ("Newe") have lived on this land for thousands of years - our creation stories stem from the mountains where our ancestors lay buried. The waters, the plants, the other living beings and the earth itself all hold special meaning to us. The Distribution bill would pay approximately 15 cents an acre for land that was never agreed for sale, with no hearing and no public purpose.

· GOLD: Western Shoshone lands are the 3rd largest gold producing area in the world, behind only South Africa and Australia - One mountain alone, Mt. Tenabo, which Congressman Gibbons has slated for a privatization scheme (HR 2869) to Placer Dome (5th largest gold company in the world) has estimated revenues of $7-8 billion. In mining contributions received in the 2004 cycle, Congressman Gibbons comes in 2nd in the House with Reid as the 4th highest recipient in the Senate. Other multinationals mining in our area include Barrick, Kennecott, Newmont and Marigold.

· WATER: Western Shoshone lands have been cited as sitting atop a subterranean sea with vast quantities of drinking quality fossil waters. Example: Dewatering processes by several of the gold mines pump drinking water quality water 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at levels from 20 to 70 thousand gallons/minute. Vidler Water, a subsidiary of PECO Holding Corp., is in the area and initiating discussions with County and State officials regarding water privatization efforts.

· ENERGY: Western Shoshone hot springs are cited to be the next "Saudi Arabia" of geothermal energy production by Senator Harry Reid. Congressman Gibbons' bill, HR 2772, would open up our area to massive geothermal production with preliminary subsidies for the energy industry and the option to convert energy leases into mineral claims through the "back door".

· NUCLEAR WASTE: Western Shoshone lands contain Yucca Mountain, cited home for the nation's nuclear waste repository. The construction contract for the waste repository was awarded to Bechtel Corporation at $1.2 billion.

· NUCLEAR WEAPONS/MILITARY: Western Shoshone lands are home to the Nevada Test Site and the Federal Counterterrorism facility, both managed through Bechtel, Wackenhut and Lockheed Martin. The management contracts amount to billions of dollars on a several year renewal basis. The Bush administration has talked of reopening nuclear testing at the site.

A fair deal? We don't think so - and neither should you. Mother Earth is not expendable, except only in the mind of a diseased man. Stop the Western Shoshone Distribution Bill (S 618/HR 884) and stop abuse of our lands, resources and beliefs. We've been in this struggle for a long time now and it's about time the U.S. gets back to reality and deals with this issue in a good way rather than continuing all this terrorism against the vanishing race of the original people of this Nation.

The Western Shoshone Distribution Bill - S 618/H.R. 884

The Truth: Fiction v. Facts

Fiction: A majority of the Western Shoshone people are in favor of the bill.

Facts:
· A majority of the tribal councils and all of the traditional Western Shoshone oppose the distribution of money until resolution of the land issues.
· There have been no government to government consultations on the bill.
· In 1980, at the formal Hearing of Record, the Western Shoshone rejected the claims money because the U.S. could not demonstrate how it had legally acquired title to the land from the Western Shoshone. Since that time, there has never been any vote of the Western Shoshone on the bill. There has been no demonstration in any form that the straw poll ballot referenced by Congressman Gibbons and Senator Reid was ever authorized or certified by any Western Shoshone government. No independent monitoring ever occurred and to this day no independent or government body has seen the alleged ballots or been allowed to review the process.
· Despite specific requests by Congressmen Tom Udall (NM) and Raul Grijalva (AZ), the Department of Interior has failed to provide any documentation of their statements that a "majority" of Western Shoshone are in favor of the bill.
· The tribal chairman, Felix Ike, who testified before the Senate and House committees in favor of the distribution has been formally removed from any tribal leadership position. An investigation is underway with regard to his actions while in office, in particular, his dealings with Congressional offices and the Department of Interior.

Fiction: The intent of this bill is simply to distribute money awarded to the Western Shoshone for damages.
Facts:
· This bill will distribute money awarded for alleged extinguishment of title to 24 million acres of land, the vast majority of which is currently classified as "public" lands.
· This bill will open the way to large scale privatization of lands held sacred by the Western Shoshone and currently used and occupied by the native people for grazing, gathering medicinal and food plants, hunting and fishing, and ceremonial purposes.
· In a November 2003 letter sent to Secretary of Gale Norton, Congressman Grijalva (AZ) raises serious concerns about the real intent of the bill and the involvement of the federal government and mining, energy and nuclear industries in presenting a misleading picture of the issues to the public and to members of Congress. (Copy available at www.wsdp.org)

Fiction: Western Shoshone land title has been fully litigated in the U.S. courts.
Facts:
· The Western Shoshone have never received a hearing on the issue of title.
· The Treaty of Ruby Valley, which recognizes the boundaries of 60 million acres of Western Shoshone land has never been litigated.
· The only issue decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in U.S. v. Dann was whether or not "payment" had been made when the money was accepted by the Department of Interior on behalf of the Western Shoshone. The Supreme Court said "yes", Interior serves as a "trustee" to the Indians and Interior's acceptance equals acceptance by the Western Shoshone, thereby triggering a statutory bar to litigation on the issue.
· Last year, after 10 years of briefings and hearings, an international judicial body (the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights) found that the process used by the U.S. violates Western Shoshone rights to property, to due process, and to equality under the law. Amnesty International has issued a formal report on the situation and has called upon the United States to adhere to the international ruling by engaging in good faith negotiations with the Western Shoshone.
· In September 2003, a new lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court in D.C. (Western Shoshone v. U.S., Case No. 03-CV-2009 (Judge Lamberth)). The lawsuit asserts the unconstitutional nature of the federal process and asserts Western Shoshone title to the 60 million acre land base. Preliminary filings are underway.

Fiction: The land dispute can be resolved after the distribution is made.
Facts:
· Instead of a fair resolution, Nevada Congressmen Reid and Gibbons have already set the stage for corporate giveaways and large scale privatization of the lands. For example: H.R. 2869 would work to give away Western Shoshone lands to major mining interest such as Placer Dome; HR 2772 would encourage large scale expansion of geothermal energy production with no provision for Western Shoshone cultural beliefs or compensation for use of the hot water; Senator Reid's office has drafted the Northern Nevada Public Lands Management Act which creates a process for large scale privatization of the same lands at issue in the distribution award.
· Department of Interior continues acts of armed surveillance and threats of impoundment against Western Shoshone. (In the past Congressional session, hundreds of cattle and horses were forcibly seized by the Department under military-type tactics.)

Fiction: The lands are not highly valuable and there is no hidden agenda by U.S. lawmakers and corporations to "clear" title.
Facts:
· The land and its resources are worth billions of dollars to mining and energy companies.
· The land produces 2/3 the gold production in the U.S., making it the third largest gold producing area in the world, behind South Africa and Australia. Due to the enormous wealth of minerals, a 1999 USGS report sited the area as the number one investment opportunity for extraction companies.
· Energy companies are lining up for access to the vast geothermal resources with Senator Reid calling the area the next "Saudi Arabia" of geothermal energy production. Much of the energy production is presumed for use to subsidize existing and expanded mining operations.

Fiction: The Western Shoshone are being unreasonable and cannot agree amongst themselves as to a fair resolution of the issue.
Facts:
· From the beginning, the Western Shoshone have asked for good faith negotiations with the United States. Their request is simple: to sit across the table and talk on an equal level.
· Complex negotiations occur in the corporate world everyday and if the U.S. were to commit the appropriate political will, a process could be decided upon that would satisfy all concerned.
· The cost to the taxpayer would be less than continuing the dispute and may in fact save monies which would otherwise be spent in ongoing enforcement actions against Western Shoshone and monies wasted or not realized in private sweet heart deals with private corporations and land developers.

* * * * * * * * *

Following are samples of some of the statements, letters and list serve communications being sent by Western Shoshone and supporters.



Those of you with eyes to see and ears to hear, I am forwarding an action alert ... . asking for people to contact their representatives and oppose the Western Shoshone Distribution Bill to be voted on by the House of Representatives this Tuesday (June 1). Please read the action alert to learn the specifics.

Based on my understanding, this appears to me to be yet another case where the US government is unilaterally ending a treaty agreement with an Indian Nation without tribal consent. In a conversation with someone about this the other day they cynically asked:
"Yeah, but what do you expect? When has the US government ever honored treaties with the Indians?"

My reply to his question: They've never honored the treaties. And I expect more from my government. I, for one, honor treaties and I will raise the one empowered voice I have to appeal to those who represent me in government to do the same. Those who opposed slavery expected more, those who professed that separate was not equal expected more--because those practices were based on racial discrimination. So is the US practice of not honoring treaties made with Indian nations. We must expect more from our government than that.

Thanks to those of you who have already responded to this issue. I urge the rest of you to do what you can. Even if it is just learning about the issue yourself and sharing this information with others.

* * * *


Indigenous Rights Watch

"I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."" ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

"When individuals assume responsibility for ensuring each other's human rights the foundation for unity will be firmly established." ~Bahai International Community

Letter from Supporter to their Congressperson:
Oppose the Western Shoshone Distribution Bill, S. 618/HR 884.

Reid, Gibbons, Gale Norton and our "National Interests" have taken a page from the influential Koch boys of Wichita, who were caught stealing oil from impoverished tribes in Oklahoma. "We want our fair share, and that's ALL of it!"

It's 300 year old tradition in government: you sign treaties with the folks who rightly occupy the territory. Then you do whatever you please! And laugh all the way to the bank.

The Native American Rights Fund has taken Gale Norton to court THREE times and WON each time, yet the Interior Department continues to act illegally...no different from what they're doing with Western Shoshone.
This is not government. This is tyranny masked as politics. So is passage of HR884, HR 2869, HR2772.

Find the actual documentation for the Interior Dept. testimony about Western Shoshone disputes, requested by Tom Udall in 2003. Is he a "dissident" too? Has the truth become a radical act? Stop the subversion of due process. It would be a refreshing change!


And anyone else you may think could be persuasive in this issue.

Thank you for your continued support - what affects the native/indigenous peoples affects us all.

Please vote NO on the Western Shoshone Pay Off Bill or otherwise known as the Western Shoshone Distribution Bill (HR 884/S 618). Thank you for your time, and your attention to this serious issue:

" http://www.wsdp.org/"

---------------------------------------------


Western Shoshone: War is not just in Iraq

CRESCENT VALLEY, Nev. - "United States Congressmen are mirroring the same deceptive tactics in Western Shoshone territory as in Iraq, said Western Shoshone as legislation was pushed to compensate tribal members for Aboriginal land in an effort to seize it and open it up for mining, energy and nuclear corporations...."

This article can be found at " http://www.indiancountry.com/?1085081562"

homepage: homepage: http://www.wsdp.org/

LINK ISSUES ON THIS PAGE 28.Jun.2004 15:53

Anne Marie Fitzell

Just wanted to share with you if you are trying to get to any of the links it seems as though the quotation marks must be removed or you will get an error page, so click the link, when you get there, you will be on a page not found or error, just remove the quotes at the beginning and end that should not be on the link, and it should get you there...

Thanks!