The Western Shoshone and the Treaty of Ruby Valley
The Nevada Test Site and Yucca Mountain are in the center of Newe Sogobia, the Western Shoshone Nation. Newe Sogobia means the People of Mother Earth. Western Shoshone title to this land was recognized by the U.S. government in 1863 in the Treaty of Ruby Valley, which was ratified by the U.S. Congress, and signed by President Ulysses S. Grant. It is a treaty between nations.
Although the United States has tried a variety of tactics to nullify this treaty and buy out the Western Shoshone at 3 cents an acre, according to U.S. and international law, the treaty is still in force and the land inside the boundary is subject to Shoshone jurisdiction.
The Western Shoshone are the most bombed nation on Earth, with over 1,000 nuclear bombs detonated on their lands by the U.S. and Great Britain. In 1987, the Western Shoshone National Council (WSNC) exercised their sovereignty and challenged U.S. jurisdiction by issuing WSNC Land Use Permits to participants of anti-nuclear gatherings at the Nevada Test Site. Since that time, hundreds of simple trespass actions onto the Test Site have not been prosecuted, because the government wants to keep the issue of the Ruby Valley Treaty out of the courts.
The Western Shoshone National Council has declared their nation a Nuclear Free Zone. It is the position of the Western Shoshone National Council that using Yucca Mountain as a nuclear waste dump violates their treaty. From an international perspective a nuclear waste dump at Yucca Mountain is illegal.
The United Nations Committee to End Racial Discrimination has repeatedly cited the U.S. treatment of the Western Shoshone as a grave human rights issue of international concern.
Western Shoshone people, friends and supporters continue to pray for the land and natural life in the Nevada Test Site and Yucca Mountain area several times a year, and to protest the dangerous nuclear activities there that keep them from their homelands.
Top: Western Shoshone National Council members Carrie Dann, Johnnie Bobb abd John Wells share their history at a Nevada Test Site Easter protest in April, 2007. The Test Site is in the background.
Center: Shoshone Spiritual and National Council leaders are joined by hundreds of others from all over the world in a protest march to the gates of the Nevada Test Site.
Above: Western Shoshone girls from the Duckwater Reservation perform traditional dances at the Yucca Mountain Spiritual Gathering spring renewal ceremonies.
Left: This map of Shoshone treaty lands shows the Nevada Test Site in the center and Yucca Mt. (to its left). The Shoshone have not had access to their lands since 1948. Over 100 families were kicked off their traditional lands with no compensation.
Map by Zoltan Grossman.