Western Shoshone: Our Land, Our Life

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In traditional indigenous societies, land means life. Following is a documentary on the struggle of two Western Shoshone elders against mining threats to their ancestral lands from the United States in Crescent City, Nevada.


Our Land, Our Life presents the struggle of Carrie and Mary Dann, two Western Shoshone elders, to address the threat mining development poses to the sacred and environmentally sensitive lands of Crescent Valley, Nevada.

The Western Shoshone Defense Project’s mission is to affirm Newe (Western Shoshone) jurisdiction over Newe Sogobia (Western Shoshone homelands) by protecting, preserving, and restoring Newe rights and lands for present and future generations based on cultural and spiritual traditions.

“I was indigenous and in one single evening they made me indigent. If you think the Indian wars are over, then think again.” -- Carrie Dann, Western Shoshone activist, October 31, 2002

Western Shoshone, Mary Dann, Carrie Dann, Nevada

Mary Dann and her sister, Carrie were Western Shoshone ranchers, cultural and spiritual rights and land rights activists. They persuaded the UN to order the US to halt all actions against Western Shoshone land, a mandate that has mostly been ignored. In 1993 the Dann Sisters received the Right Livelihood Award. Photo from Indigenous Peoples Issues and Resources.

BACKGROUND

The U.S. Constitution states that treaties, agreements between sovereign nations, are the supreme law of the land. The 1863 Treaty of Ruby Valley between the U.S. and the Western Shoshone Nation remains in effect, affirming the sovereign status of the Western Shoshone and recognizing the boundaries of their territory.

STORY: Shoshone Myth: Wolf Challenges the Euro-American “Iron-Man”

The destruction of cultural sites and water sources was clearly not intended to be permitted through the Treaty of Ruby Valley. Canadian transnational companies such as Oro Nevada and Barrick Gold have been buying land and mining within the boundaries of the Western Shoshone Nation and violate the Treaty and the U.S. Constitution. Barrick Gold is now moving forward with one of the largest open pit cyanide heap leach gold mines in the United States on the slopes of sacred Mount Tenabo.

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Jack Eidt

About Jack Eidt

Writer, urban theorist, and environmental advocate, Jack Eidt careens down human-nature's all consuming one-way highway to its inevitable conclusion - Wilder Utopia. He co-founded Wild Heritage Planners, based out of Los Angeles, California. He can be reached at jack (dot) eidt (at) wilderutopia (dot) com.