September 25, 2009

Western Shoshone's American Outrage

Native American rights at heart of documentary

“American Outrage” directed by Beth Gage & George Gage; written by Beth Gage; narrated by Mary Steenburgen, First Run Features, 2008 (released 2009), 56 minutes plus special features, $24.95.

By Diana Staresinic-Deane
In 1863, the U.S. government, seeking safe passage across Native American lands to the West, signed a treaty of peace and friendship with the Western Shoshone. The Treaty of Ruby Valley granted the U.S. the right to cross Western Shoshone territory without requiring the Western Shoshone to relinquish their land.

The interpretation of this treaty is at the heart of “American Outrage,” a film documenting the Western Shoshone’s 36-year struggle to maintain ownership of and rights to their traditional sacred lands.

At the center of this battle are sisters Carrie and Mary Dann, a pair of Western Shoshone grandmothers who have ranched near the Crescent Valley in Nevada for their entire lives. In 1973, a representative of the Bureau of Land Management informed the Danns that their animals were trespassing on government land. Consulting a map of Western Shoshone land as outlined by the Treaty of Ruby Valley, the Danns insisted they were within their rights.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Native Documentaries and News.

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