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**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 www.wsdp.org under “Legal Actions.
NOTE: Letter could not be attached to this blog.