[m2c] Western Shoshone Activist, Mary Dann, Dies
sandinista at shaw.ca
Sun May 1 02:56:54 MDT 2005
Western Shoshone Defense Project: http://www.wsdp.org
Western Shoshone Activist, Mary Dann, Dies
Indigenous activist Mary Dann has also died at her home in Nevada. Along
with her sister she helped represent the Western Shoshone nation in its
fight to reclaim twenty four million acres of their ancestral land in
Nevada, California, Idaho and Utah. The sisters accused the government of
illegally seizing the land in 1863. Two decades ago the U.S. government
awarded the Western Shoshones twenty six million dollars for the lost land.
However the Western Shoshone nation has never agreed to whether it should
accept the money - which has grown to more than one hundred forty million
dollars. Mary Dann and her sister refused to accept the payment maintaining
that the land still belonged to the Western Shoshone people. In 2002 the
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights ruled that U.S. claims to the
ancestral lands of the Western Shoshone nation was illegal under
international law. According to the Indian Law Resource Center, the
commission's ruling marked the first time that the United States has been
found in violation of international human rights laws in its treatment of
American Indian Activist Mary Dann Dies
By TOM GARDNER, Associated Press Writer
April 23, 2005
RENO, Nev. - Activist Mary Dann, who with her sister helped represent the
Shoshone Nation in its effort to reclaim millions of acres they claimed as
their ancestral land, has died in an accident on her rural central Nevada
Dann apparently had an accident on an all-terrain vehicle while she was
repairing fence on the Crescent Valley ranch Friday night, according to
Julie Fishel of the Western Shoshone Defense Project.
Fishel said Dann was in her early 80s but had never disclosed her exact age.
Patricia Paul said her aunt "died as she would have wanted with her boots
on and hay in her pocket."
Carrie, left, and Mary Dann pose together on their ranch near Crescent
Valley, Nev., in a file photo from Oct. 3, 2002. Dann, who with her sister
helped represent the Shoshone Nation in its effort to reclaim 60 million
acres they claim as their ancestral land, has died in an accident on her
rural central Nevada ranch. (AP Photo/Laura Rauch, File)
For more than a quarter century, Dann and her sister Carrie were at the
forefront of efforts to reclaim a vast tract of land spreading across four
states. They claimed it was their aboriginal land, which was seized by the
United States under the Treaty of Ruby Valley, enacted two years before the
end of the Civil War.
"We're the ones that know which is right and which is wrong," Mary Dann said
in a 2003 interview with The Associated Press.
Some tribal members, however, considered the Dann sisters adversaries
because their cause and its publicity foiled years of attempts to distribute
federal money to members under a land-claim award. She and her sister
opposed distribution of the money and refused to pay to graze livestock on a
federal allotment near their ranch.
Though "traditional" tribal members such as the Danns rejected the notion of
a claim, another Shoshone band did file for settlement. In the late 1970s,
the Indian Claims Commission awarded the Shoshones $26 million, deciding the
tribe had lost the land by the "gradual encroachment" of white settlers.
However, the money went untouched because a majority of Shoshones could
never agree to accept it. With interest, the amount of the payment has grown
to more than $140 million, said Raymond Yowell, chief of the Western
While the claims panel was one front in the battle, a pasture near the
Danns' ranch became another.
In 1974, the Bureau of Land Management filed suit against the Danns,
claiming they were trespassing by allowing their cattle to graze on federal
land and refusing to pay grazing fees. The case went through the courts to
the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled in 1985 that the tribe had lost title to
the land when the $26 million was deposited as payment even though the
money was never collected.
Mary Dann, who grew up with her sister on the 800-acre ranch once run by
their father, usually sat quietly alongside more vocal Carrie in scores of
public appearances and court hearings.
"Mary was quite a strong person. We're trying to absorb the suddenness of it
happening," Yowell said on Saturday.
Carrie Dann said her sister would not want her death to interrupt the
continuing court challenges over their land.
"This was Mary's life work," she said. "All these years we've been fighting
and the courts still haven't done anything. As far as we're concerned we
will live up to our spiritual beliefs and nothing will change that. Mary
believed that and lived by it and so do I."
Prospero, you are the master of illusion.
Lying is your trademark.
And you have lied so much to me
(lied about the world, lied about me)
that you have ended by imposing on me
an image of myself.
underdeveloped, you brand me, inferior,
That ís the way you have forced me to see myself
I detest that image! What's more, it's a lie!
But now I know you, you old cancer,
and I know myself as well.
- Caliban, in Aime Cesaire's "The Tempest"
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