Friday, September 23, 2005

National Archives Indian Records Discarded

National Archives Indian Records Discarded
Assoicated Press - JOHN HEILPRIN
Sep 23, 2005

WASHINGTON (AP) - Federal officials are investigating how National Archives documents of interest to Indians suing the Interior Department were found discarded in a trash bin and a wastebasket.

The discovery came to light on Sept. 1, when Archives staff noticed federal records in one of the trash bins behind the National Archives Building near the Capitol. They notified the Archives' inspector general, Paul Brachfeld, whose staff recovered the documents.

They found at least a portion of the documents were Bureau of Indian Affairs records dating to the 1950s, according to Jason Baron of the Archives' Office of General Counsel, in a letter last week to an Interior Department official.

Brachfeld's office began investigating, and ``what appear to be Indian records were discovered in a waste basket in the stack areas at Main Archives,'' Baron wrote. Taken together, the two dumping incidents ``may be intentional acts aimed at unlawfully removing or disposing of permanent records from the Interior Department,'' he wrote.

Lawyers for the Indian plaintiffs suing the Interior Department over lost royalties ran across Baron's letter this week in a routine court filing by Justice Department lawyers on behalf of Interior's Office of Trust Records.

Dennis Gingold, the plaintiff's lead attorney, said the discovery represents more of ``the same repugnant, desperate actions we've come to expect'' from the Interior Department.

Dan DuBray, an Interior Department spokesman, pointed out that the documents were not in the custody of his agency. He said the department was told by the National Archives that all the discarded documents had been found within restricted locations at the Archives.

``We have every confidence that the inspector general of the National Archives will get to the bottom of this very serious issue,'' he said.

Susan Cooper, a spokeswoman for the National Archives, said ``a limited number of boxes'' were found within trash containers in the loading area and in wastebaskets in the stack areas - both within secure locations.

The Interior Department ``had nothing to do with it,'' Cooper said. ``This is a problem at the National Archives, not the Interior Department.''

Cooper said Archivist of the United States Allen Weinstein had directed increased security measures in the stacks and loading docks, including monitoring trash disposal and ensuring all stack doors remain locked.

Congress found problems in 1994 with Interior's administration of 260,000 Indian trust accounts containing $400 million. Two years later, Elouise Cobell of the Blackfeet Indian tribe and others filed suit. They allege the department cheated about 500,000 Indians out of more than $100 billion, by mismanaging oil, gas, grazing, timber and other royalties from their lands dating to 1887. They have offered to settle for $27.5 billion.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

United Nations Committee Responds to Western Shoshone

From: "Carrie Dann" To: Subject: Release: United Nations Sends Formal Request to U.S. Regarding Western Shoshone (Tenabo/Yucca Mtn named) Date: Tue, 23 Aug 2005 14:15:49 -0700 X-Mailer: Microsoft Outlook, Build 10.0.3416 Importance: High X-ELNK-AV: 0
For Additional Information or Interviews, Contact:
Western Shoshone Defense Project

**Press Release – For Immediate Release**

United Nations Committee Responds to Western Shoshone Requests –
Specific Mention of Threatened Spiritual & Cultural Areas:
Mt. Tenabo and Yucca Mountain

August 23, 2005

Crescent Valley, Nevada (Newe Sogobia). On the final day of its 67th Session, August 19, 2005, the Chairman of the United Nations Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination issued a formal letter and series of questions to the United States regarding the situation of the Western Shoshone. The letter was issued after a private meeting with representatives from the United States on August 15, 2005 based on requests by the Western Shoshone Nation* that the Committee act under its early warning and urgent action procedure to prevent further escalation of federal assaults on Western Shoshone people and their ancestral lands. A delegation of Western Shoshone traveled to Geneva August 8-20 to present the requests.

A full copy of the letter is attached to this release. Questions range from the U.S.’ position on the Treaty of Ruby Valley, seizures of Western Shoshone livestock, efforts to privatize Western Shoshone land to benefit mining and energy industries and ongoing harassment of Western Shoshone people. The Committee asked specifically about United States approval of expanded mining activities in the Mount Tenabo area in Crescent Valley and the approval to store nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain. Both areas are of spiritual and cultural importance to the Western Shoshone and are sites where local creation stories originate.

The Committee has asked the United States to respond to the questions by December 31, 2005 for further examination at its next session beginning February 20, 2006 in Geneva Switzerland.

Upon receipt of the letter earlier today, Raymond Yowell, Chief of the Western Shoshone National Council stated:
“We are pleased that the United Nations Committee (CERD) is willing
to look into this. We encourage the U.S. to respond in an honorable
manner and to begin to work toward a solution on this long standing
matter – for the benefit of all concerned.”

Western Shoshone lands cover approximately 60 million acres stretching across what is now referred to as the states of Nevada, Idaho, Utah and California. The United States claims around 90% of the land base as “public” or federally-controlled lands. The Western Shoshone challenge the U.S. assertion of ownership stating that there has never been a legally valid transfer, sale or cession of land by the Western Shoshone to the United States.

* Full copies of the Requests are available at under “Legal Actions.

NOTE: Letter could not be attached to this blog.