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Western Shoshone Victorious at United Nations

In 1973, when the U.S. Bureau of Land Management came out to two Western Shoshone sister's, Carrie and Mary Dann's cattle ranch and asked them to obtain grazing permits and pay grazing fees for their cattle, they argued that the cattle were grazing on Western Shoshone land. The Bureau of Land Management sued them for trespassing and the battle was engaged.

10 March 2006, Geneva Switzerland. Today, in an historic and strongly worded decision by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) the United States was urged to "freeze", "desist" and "stop" actions being taken or threatened to be taken against the Western Shoshone Peoples of the Western Shoshone Nation.

The decision is historic in that it is the first time a United Nations Committee has issued a full decision against the U.S. in respect to its highly controversial Federal Indian law and policy. The decision expressed particular concern that the U.S.' basis for claiming federal title to Western Shoshone land rests on a theory of "gradual encroachment" through a "compensation" process in the Indian Claims Commission. The decision highlights that this same process was found by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to violate "international human rights norms, principles and standards that govern determination of indigenous property interests." When the U.S. last appeared before the Committee in 2001, Committee members expressed alarm and concern that U.S. laws regarding indigenous peoples continue to be based on the outdated, colonial era "doctrine of discovery."

"We are Shoshone delegates speaking for a Nation threatened by extinction. The mines are polluting our waters, destroying hot springs and exploding sacred mountains—our burials along with them--attempting to erase our signature on the land. We are coerced and threatened by mining and Federal agencies when we seek to continue spiritual prayers for traditional food or medicine on Shoshone land. We have endured murder of our Newe people for centuries, as chronicled in military records, but now we are asked to endure a more painful death from the U.S. governmental agencies —a separation from land and spiritual renewal. We thank our past leaders for their persistence and courage and the CERD for this monumental step" Bernice Lalo, Western Shoshone.
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