START A PETITION 25,136,189 members: the world's largest community for good
Feb 2, 2006

Focus:Indigenous Rights
Action Request:Petition
Location:United States
The Western Shoshones has fought for a long time, attempts from the gov to store nuclear waste on their reservation; their lands have been the site for nuclear tests and much more.
Please go to the link at the end of this article and sign their petition!
Western Shoshone urge probe of human rights violations
Posted: January 27, 2006
by: Brenda Norrell / Indian Country Today

ELKO, Nev. - While the United States fails to respond to the United Nations
inquiry into violations of human rights of Western Shoshone, supporters have
surpassed an original goal of 10,000 signatures to maintain pressure on the
government to answer for the harassment of Shoshone people.

''We've got a fight on our hands,'' Western Shoshone Carrie Dann told Indian
Country Today, encouraging the United Nations to increase pressure on the
United States to uphold the rights of indigenous peoples.

''This is supposed to be democracy?'' Dann asked and described the United
States' manipulation of laws that affect American Indians.

''What is democracy? Is democracy destroying the rights of the indigenous
people? We don't see any democracy where indigenous people are concerned.''

The United States missed a year-end deadline to answer questions from the
U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination concerning violations
of Western Shoshone human rights and their right to ancestral lands.

The committee issued a list of 10 questions the government failed to answer
by Dec. 31. The questions follow a request for urgent action, which, if
accepted, would allow the committee to open an investigation into U.S. conduct
regarding land issues and the treatment of indigenous people.

Julie Ann Fishel, land recognition program director for the Western Shoshone
Defense Project, said Western Shoshone elders see pressure from the United
Nations as the only solution; the petition reveals the support of the people.

''It tells the United States the Western Shoshone are not going away,''
Fishel told ICT. ''We will seek out every opportunity and forum to press this

Fishel said Western Shoshone rights are a fundamental human rights issue that
affects all of civil society in the United States. Further, Western Shoshone
hope pressure from the United Nations will increase awareness of indigenous
rights as a mainstream issue.

Dann and Fishel were interviewed by telephone in Miami, where they are
participating in the Seventh Tribal Sovereignty Symposium, ''Sovereignty and
Sustainable Development of Indigenous Peoples.''

Siegfried Wiessner, professor of international law and constitutional law at
the St. Thomas University School of Law in Miami, said the recognition of
indigenous rights worldwide has made tremendous progress.

''There has been a remarkable resurgence of indigenous rights,'' Wiessner
told ICT.

Indigenous rights of self-governance, recognition of autonomy and the
execution of treaties are progressing worldwide. Indigenous peoples are transcending
borders and coming together as never before to communicate, and the mass media
is helping advance indigenous rights, he said.

''Indigenous people are coming together because this is the air they breathe,
the land where they live.''

Western Shoshone plan to travel in a delegation to Geneva, Switzerland, in
March to meet with UNCERD members and present their case and the petition.

The petition states that the U.S. government is violating the rights of the
Western Shoshone to ancestral lands - rights recognized by the Treaty of Ruby
Valley of 1863. The lands in question cover 60 million acres stretching across
Nevada, Idaho, Utah and California.

The United States, without Western Shoshone consent, has allowed gold mining
and military testing of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons on their
ancestral lands. Further, Western Shoshone said they are denied fair resolution in
U.S. courts.

The United States claims the lands are ''public'' lands and no longer belong
to the Western Shoshone. The Bureau of Land Management has upheld impound
notices for Western Shoshone livestock in Nevada and imposed heavy trespass fines.
This was done while the United States was attempting to privatize large
tracts of land for the expansion of multinational gold companies' mining

Without voice or resolution in the United States, the Western Shoshone
appealed to the United Nations demanding reform of U.S. laws that allow for the
theft and destruction of indigenous lands.

Western Shoshone said the preservation of the cultural and spiritual
integrity of their way of life is dependent on protection of the land. Currently,
Western Shoshone are faced with the threat of a high-level nuclear waste dump on
Yucca Mountain and open-pit gold mining at Mount Tenabo, both areas spiritually
significant to Western Shoshone.

The WSDP petition is being carried out in partnership with Oxfam America. The
Boston-based international development and relief agency, an affiliate of
Oxfam International, delivers development programs and emergency relief services.
Oxfam campaigns for change in global practices and policies that keep people
in poverty.

''This is a critical land rights issue. The federal government needs to be
held accountable for violating treaties with Indian nations, as the
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has clearly established,'' said Oxfam America's
Laura Inouye, referring to an earlier decision by that body which found the
BLM had violated Western Shoshone rights to due process, property rights and

''A similar finding by UNCERD will help the Western Shoshone press their case
for justice.''

To view the petition, go to

NOTE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this material is
distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest
in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes
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Posted: Thursday February 2, 2006, 12:29 am
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Rebecca Wiles (1160)
Friday February 3, 2006, 8:43 pm
Thank You! I just signed it! :)


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