Editorial: Spiritual genocide for Western Shoshone
"The people of the Western Shoshone Nation have consistently and defiantly battled to protect their territory from corporate and federal intrusion. They now face another giant in the form of Barrick Gold Corp., the world’s largest multinational mining corporation, which is currently in the process of clear-cutting trees at a spiritual gathering site to make way for a massive mine expansion project. Forces such as a disputed land claim, growing antagonism toward aboriginal land ownership, and a crumbling U.S. economy are combining to threaten Western Shoshone sovereignty and their sacred Mount Tenabo.

The ancestral land surrounding Mt. Tenabo is known by the Shoshone as Newe Sogobia. It is an area of 60 million acres once controlled by the Western Shoshone, a place which plays a significant role in their creation stories, the site of ancient burials and contemporary ceremonial rites, and a source for medicinal plants.

The Great Basin swindle began soon after gold exploration spread across the West in the late 19th century. The 1863 Ruby Valley Treaty, also known, now somewhat ironically, as the Treaty of Peace and Friendship, acknowledged Western Shoshone ownership of the land, but gave non-Indian miners access to tribal lands for passage through the territory. Eventually the Indian Claims Commission, established in 1946 to extinguish Indian title to lands outside recognized reservations, took the position that the Shoshones had surrendered millions of acres of ancestral land taken by “gradual encroachment.” That position was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in a controversial 1985 case in which the high court did not weigh actual evidence in support of the Shoshone’s argument. Millions of government dollars remain in trust as the Shoshone people have refused to accept payment for land that had never been relinquished in the first place."

Get the Story:
Editorial: ‘Spiritual genocide’ at Mt. Tenabo (Indian Country Today 12/10)

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Judge hears Western Shoshone suit against mine (12/2)
Western Shoshones sue Interior over gold mine (11/24)