WESTERN SHOSHONE NATIONAL COUNCIL
POST OFFICE BOX 210
INDIAN SPRINGS, NEVADA 89018-0210
TELEPHONE / FACSIMILE: (702) 879-5203
July 17th, 1997
Ann Morgan, Director Bureau of Land Management
850 Harvard Way
P. O. Box 12000
Reno, Nevada 89520-0006
RE: - Exploratory Drilling by the Oro Nevada Mining Company on Western .Shoshone lands in the Crescent Valley area
Dear Ms. Morgan,
The Western Shoshone government has recently learned of the Oro Nevada Mining Company's recent plans to conduct further exploratory drilling on the traditional lands of the Dann family. citizens of the Western Shoshone Nation, who have used and occupied these lands for generations.
On July 2, 1997, the Oro Nevada Milling Company filed a notice (N16-97-22N) with the Elko BLM to begin drilling activity in Section 4, T28N, R49E. This site is the cultural and spiritual encampment authorized and established by order of the Western Shoshone National Council. Ceremonial areas continue to he used here, and the annual Western Shoshone Spring Gathering, for celebration and prayer, is also held in this location. Drilling activity in this area is unacceptable, and the Western Shoshone National Council is asking you not to allow Oro Nevada to proceed with their proposed action in Section 4.
This recent Notice to drill and desecrate Western Shoshone land is in addition to the road that has been plowed above the Western Shoshone sacred hot spring in Section 10, T29N, R49E. This disturbance was performed regardless of the fact that the Western Shoshone National Council, the Dann family and other Western Shoshone individuals, tribal councils and national and international organizations have repeatedly informed the BLM and Oro Nevada that this is a cultural and spiritual site that should not be disturbed
Despite the concerns that have been raised, there has been no attempt by the BLM to contact the Dann family or a member of the Western Shoshone National Council. If the BLM decides to go forward in approving this Notice of Intent, without any Western Shoshone consultation, they will not be complying with United States laws. including the Native American consultation as set forth by the National Environmental Policy Act. Additionally they will be in violation with the American Indian Religious Freedom Act, the National Historic Preservation Act, and President Clinton's Executive Order 3007 on Sacred Sites.
Furthermore, Section 10 and Section 4 lie on Western Shoshone territory as recognized by the 1863 Treaty of Ruby Valley. The United States government has continuously failed to produce documentation on how they acquired title to these lands. Presently United States Court proceedings are underway concerning the Western Shoshone land rights issue.
We have continued to honor the 1863 Treaty of Ruby Valley. This Treaty did grant the United States, the privilege to mine on Western Shoshone lands, however the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that treaties are to be interpreted as the native people would have understood them at the time of the signing. In 1863, there were no open pit cyanide heap leach gold mines. The Western Shoshone people, in no way agreed to the scale, destructive form and consequences of modern day gold mining.
Last Fall, the Carrie Dann requested a meeting with you to address and settle this problem. The Western Shoshone National Council and the Dann family remain interested in meeting with you and Oro Nevada president, Robert Allen Jones, in order to resolve these issues regarding Oro Nevada's exploratory drilling in the Crescent Valley area. I hope you will consider this request. Someone from the Western Shoshone Defense Project will be contacting you soon to try to arrange a meeting date.
Raymond Yowell, Chief
Western Shoshone National Council
Cc: President Bill Clinton
Bruce Babbitt, US Department of Interior
Janet Reno, US Department of Justice
Sylvia Baca, Acting Director, Bureau of Land Management
Kofi Annan, UN Secretary General
Renate Domnick, European Envoy