How Did I Miss That? Militia: God Gave Land to Settlers, Not Shoshone
This piece was modified on 4/23/14. Ian Zabarte, Western Shoshone, indicates that Cliven Bundy's ranch is in Southern Paiute territory, not Western Shoshone, as previously stated.
Big news that went on all week was the confrontation between the federal government and the “militia movement” over the removal of cattle belonging to Mormon “pioneer” Cliven Bundy from federal land. Bundy has not paid his grazing fees for 20 years. Why? His ancestors settled those lands in the 19th century. “Time immemorial,” my Cousin Ray Sixkiller pointed out, “means different things to different people.”
The 68-year-old Bundy recognizes no federal authority in the matter. If he owed grazing fees, he claimed they would be owed to the state of Nevada, which entered the United States on Halloween, 1864. Because the Civil War was going on, the Nevada Constitution contained a “paramount allegiance clause,” which is seriously inconvenient for anybody claiming, as Bundy does, a right to ignore the feds.
The year before Nevada was admitted, the US signed the Treaty of Ruby Valley, which recognized the Western Shoshone as owners of large portions of their original territory. In 1979, the Indian Claims Commission awarded the Shoshone $26 million in compensation for land lost to “settler encroachment” while the federal government looked the other way. Those encroaching settlers would be who Cliven Bundy cites today as originators of his right to graze his cattle.
The Shoshone refused the money. They had not agreed to sell the land. They did not agree that the land should be used for nuclear testing. Carrie and Mary Dann were Shoshone elders who stood up to the abuse. Mary walked on at age 82, in 2005. The 81-year-old Carrie was last arrested in 2007, protesting against the use of Shoshone land for nuclear weapons research.
The Dann Sisters grazed their cattle on land the Bureau of Land Management claimed since 1973, refusing to pay grazing fees based on the Treaty of Ruby Valley, Article VI of the US Constitution, and a report by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States that found the US to be cheating the Shoshone.
In 1992 and again in 2002, armed BLM posses rounded up the Dann Sisters’ cattle and sold them for grazing fees. The New York Times reported in 2002 that the Dann Sisters had been fined $3 million for “trespass.”
When a BLM posse came to round up Cliven Bundy’s cattle, armed “patriots” rode to the rescue. The BLM got about 400 head of Bundy’s cattle and Bundy got about as many supporters, many of them armed, from as far away as Montana. The Washington Post reported on April 10 that a sign at the entrance to the protest camp read “MILITA SIGHN IN.” Cousin Ray said he hoped their shooting was no better than their spelling.
Protestor Richard Mack, a former Arizona Sheriff, told a Fox News camera that the plan was “to put all the women up at the front. If they are going to start shooting, it’s going to be women that are going to be televised all across the world getting shot by these rogue federal officers.”
On April 12, the BLM postponed the circus, giving Bundy’s cattle back and leaving Cousin Ray to wonder where all these lovers of law and liberty were when the women up front were Carrie and Mary Dann?
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported that Randy Gray, 27, is the first of four men to be sentenced for selling counterfeit guitars to pawnshops nationwide. The fakes were represented as Martins, Gibsons, and Guilds—“90 percent Martins,” according to a federal prosecutor. Cousin Ray was horrified. “Fake guitars? Is nothing sacred?”
The good news is that the brilliant satirist Stephen Colbert has been tapped to replace David Letterman. The bad news is that Colbert will appear as himself rather than in character as the right wing blowhard. Military Times reported that the Colbert pick was endorsed by retired Gen. David Petraeus because of Colbert’s service entertaining the troops in Iraq. “Or it might have been,” Cousin Ray speculated, “because Colbert never made fun of Petraeus’s inability to keep his affair secret.”
Speaking of right wing blowhards, Rush Limbaugh accused that when CBS picked Colbert it, “declared war on the heartland of America.” If so, it’s an interesting choice, since CBS has the older white male demographic that is the Republican base sewed up. They get their entertainment from CBS and their news from Fox. Cousin Ray pointed out that kids get their entertainment from Fox and their news from The Comedy Channel.
A more violent right wing blowhard, and former Grand Dragon of the KKK, set out to kill some Jews at a Jewish community center in a suburb of Kansas City. Between that and a Jewish retirement home, the Aryan superman managed to kill one child and two elders—two Methodists and a Catholic—before being hauled off in a police car shouting “Heil Hitler!”
Please use the log in option at the bottom of this page