Archive for January 9th, 2007

An overview of Indian Treaty History in the Pcific Northwest

Go to this link and read the article on how centuries-old treaties with Indian nations still have ramifications today. Read paragraphs 1-17.

This assignment is worth extra credit.

Answer the following questions by Tuesday, January 16:
1. What was the original understanding on the part of the government regarding treaties?
2. What did the treaty-makers of the late 19th century expect to happen that would make treaties unnecessary? How did the government attempt to encourage this to happen?
3. How did the oral tradition (make sure you know what that means) in most tribes complicate treaty matters? Use the following quote in your response:
“A treaty, in the minds of our people, is an eternal word.”
4. What did Senator Hemry Dawes– author of the Dawes Act– say was the fundamental flaw in Indian culture which kept them from progressing? What did he mean?
5. What is the “supercitizenship” argument?
6. Explain, in 3-5 sentences including examples, why treaties and Indian-US relations can appear contradictory (see paragraph 17).

Shoshone press claim to parts of Nevada in 2007

Today’s newspaper so very conveniently provided an article which will help with today’s class discussion. The Shoshone Indian tribe claims treaties signed with the government are still in effect.

What’s at stake?

Royalties and final say over water, mineral and property rights for 93,750 square miles in the West.

LAS VEGAS — The way Allen Moss, a member of the Western Shoshone tribe, sees things, vast stretches of the West and all of their wealth belong to the Indians.

And despite being turned back in lawsuit after lawsuit for decades, the Shoshone leader says he won’t rest until the U.S. government honors a 19th-century treaty that, according to the tribe, entitles it to reclaim ancestral lands extending from California through Nevada and Utah to Idaho.

The lands include much of the Las Vegas area. The Shoshones say they are not interested in the city — too many people, too many problems. But they want the rugged desert hills that have yielded tens of billions of dollars worth of gold over decades.

At issue is the 1863 Treaty of Ruby Valley, which the Shoshone say gave the tribe — not the federal government — royalties and final say over water, mineral and property rights for land covering 93,750 square miles.

Moss, a representative to the eight-member tribal council in Nevada, estimates the number of Shoshone at 5,000 to 8,000.

The tribe has taken its case to courts, international tribunals and the public.

It sued to block the nation’s nuclear waste from being stored in Nevada. It succeeded in postponing government plans to explode a large conventional bomb. And it went all the way to Switzerland to ask the United Nations to intervene in the land dispute.

The tribe keeps losing on most fronts but hasn’t stopped appealing.

The Supreme Court ruled against the tribe in a case in 1979, saying the Treaty of Ruby Valley gave the U.S. trusteeship over the tribal lands. And in September, the Court of Claims in Washington accepted the government position that the treaty was “merely one of friendship and that it conveyed no treaty rights.”

Lawyer Bob Hager, who has been handling Western Shoshone cases for free since 1983, maintains the tribe is losing on technicalities. He said the tribal claim finally got traction — and attention — with the U.N. Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination last year in Geneva.

The panel said the U.S. government is trampling on Shoshone rights.

Cynthia Magnuson, a U.S. Justice Department spokeswoman in Washington, said the government would not comment on the dispute because the case is still in court.

The government has offered tribal members money, arguing it is unrealistic to expect the U.S. to give back lands dotted with cities.

What was the real meaning and intention of Indian treaties with the US govenment? Make sure you understand the history of treaty- making from class discussion or research. I have posted a link in the post above which does a fine job explaining how the process has played out in the Northwest.