Published on Tuesday, April 11, 2006 by OneWorld.net by Haider Rizvi (Photo: National Science Foundation Atomic Archive)
UNITED NATIONS - Native Americans want U.S. authorities to cancel plans to detonate 700 tons of explosives on what they say is tribal land in Nevada.
The planned explosion, scheduled for June 2 some 90 miles from Las Vegas, is aimed at aiding U.S. efforts to develop ''bunker buster'' weapons capable of penetrating solid rock. Officials have suggested the test would constitute the largest non-nuclear, open-air blast in the test site's history.
Federal officials have described such efforts as essential to the administration of President George W. Bush's self-styled ''war on terror'' but to leaders of the Shoshone, also known as the Newe people, the planned detonation is just the latest in a decades-long history of experiments at the Nevada Test Site to shake the earth and raise a dust cloud.
''We are opposed to any further military testing on our lands,'' said Raymond Yowell, chief of the Western Shoshone National Council.
The site of the latest proposed test sits on the land recognized under the 1863 Treaty of Ruby Valley as part of the tribe's national territory, Shoshone leaders said, and the U.S. military therefore has no right to use it.
The U.S. government disagreed and has asserted its ownership of the land.
"Without going through a lot of detail, the issue of ownership of the land area occupied by the Nevada Test Site, and for that matter very large sections of Nevada and Utah, is very complex (going back to the Ruby Valley Treaty) and in our eyes has been resolved," said Kevin Rohrer, a spokesman for the National Nuclear Security Administration, which operates the test site.
What makes this "dispute" more interesting to me is this story about Native American rights according to International Law. Didn't the US sign some treaties in the '60s?Tuesday, April 11, 2006(emphasis mine)
International law protects Native American interests
By RUSSELL A. MILLER
With 29 tribes in Washington and five in Idaho, the Pacific Northwest's Native American communities play an essential part in the region's contemporary political and cultural life. There have been a number of significant policy disputes between the federal government, the states and their Native American populations, most notably involving water rights. Long viewed as strictly domestic matters, these issues now reverberate in international law.
The case of the Dann sisters is a poignant example. Mary (now deceased) and Carrie Dann, Western Shoshone Elders, have long sought access to Western Shoshone ancestral lands, including much of present-day Nevada and extending to parts of Idaho, Utah and California. When denied access by the U.S. courts, the Dann sisters continued their struggle as a matter of international human rights law.
In a strongly worded rebuke to the United States in 2002, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (a body of the Organization of American States) found that the inadequate process afforded the Dann sisters by the U.S. Indian Claims Commission constituted a violation of the protections they were owed under the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man.
Now, in a ruling on March 10 of this year, the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has joined the fray. The United Nations claimed to have credible information that calls into question the U.S. government's assertion of federal ownership of nearly 90 percent of Western Shoshone lands. In a landmark ruling, the United Nations expressed concern about the U.S. claim to the land by theory of "gradual encroachment" and urged the United States to "freeze," "desist" and "stop" activities that threaten Western Shoshone ancestral lands. Diplomatic exchanges rarely take such an urgent and stern tone.
How might they try to adjudicate that here? If you read that carefully, its kind of arguments have sputtered to life and died quickly over and over across the United States for decades.
"Well, sure. We took their land. There weren't enough of 'em to hold US to the treaties..." Just your normal, average American has no problem with this. It's History.
And maybe someday, some time most likely decades hence, the US will figure out how to acknowledge and pay for it. Rationally. Fairly to be hoped, but at the very most, rationally.
If the insane need to develope new bunker buster freakin' nukes weren't such a big and poisonous issue, I'd suggest they wait for the next Administration though. This one has little enough concern for our own, National laws.
As it stands, I'm glad the Shoshone folk are standing up in whatever court they can get.