April 19, 2014

Cliven Bundy vs. Dann sisters

Several commentators made the obvious connection between Cliven Bundy's white-privileged claim to own his land and America's treatment of the similarly-situated Dann sisters.

How Did I Miss That? Militia: God Gave Land to Settlers, Not Shoshone

By Steve RussellBig news that went on all week was the confrontation between the federal government and the “militia movement” over the removal of cattle belonging to Mormon “pioneer” Cliven Bundy from federal land. Bundy has not paid his grazing fees for 20 years. Why? His ancestors settled those lands in the 19th century. “Time immemorial,” my Cousin Ray Sixkiller pointed out, “means different things to different people.”

The 68-year-old Bundy recognizes no federal authority in the matter. If he owed grazing fees, he claimed they would be owed to the state of Nevada, which entered the United States on Halloween, 1864. Because the Civil War was going on, the Nevada Constitution contained a “paramount allegiance clause,” which is seriously inconvenient for anybody claiming, as Bundy does, a right to ignore the feds.

The year before Nevada was admitted, the US signed the Treaty of Ruby Valley, which recognized the Western Shoshone as owners of the dirt Cliven Bundy is claiming the right to use because of his “pioneer” pedigree. In 1979, the Indian Claims Commission awarded the Shoshone $26 million in compensation for land lost to “settler encroachment” while the federal government looked the other way. Those encroaching settlers would be who Cliven Bundy cites today as originators of his right to graze his cattle.

The Shoshone refused the money. They had not agreed to sell the land. They did not agree that the land should be used for nuclear testing. Carrie and Mary Dann were Shoshone elders who stood up to the abuse. Mary walked on at age 82, in 2005. The 81-year-old Carrie was last arrested in 2007, protesting against the use of Shoshone land for nuclear weapons research.

The Dann Sisters grazed their cattle on land the Bureau of Land Management claimed since 1973, refusing to pay grazing fees based on the Treaty of Ruby Valley, Article VI of the US Constitution, and a report by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States that found the US to be cheating the Shoshone.

In 1992 and again in 2002, armed BLM posses rounded up the Dann Sisters’ cattle and sold them for grazing fees. The New York Times reported in 2002 that the Dann Sisters had been fined $3 million for “trespass.”

When a BLM posse came to round up Cliven Bundy’s cattle, armed “patriots” rode to the rescue. The BLM got about 400 head of Bundy’s cattle and Bundy got about as many supporters, many of them armed, from as far away as Montana. The Washington Post reported on April 10 that a sign at the entrance to the protest camp read “MILITA SIGHN IN.” Cousin Ray said he hoped their shooting was no better than their spelling.

Protestor Richard Mack, a former Arizona Sheriff, told a Fox News camera that the plan was “to put all the women up at the front. If they are going to start shooting, it’s going to be women that are going to be televised all across the world getting shot by these rogue federal officers.”

On April 12, the BLM postponed the circus, giving Bundy’s cattle back and leaving Cousin Ray to wonder where all these lovers of law and liberty were when the women up front were Carrie and Mary Dann?

Millionaire Mormon Ranchers Always Get Their Way, Indians Get Off Of Your Land!In the news in the last week has been the story of a downtrodden millionaire rancher who has refused to pay the Bureau of Land Management grazing fees for 20 years. Cliven Bundy refused to pay grazing fees on federal land and invited 1000 of his militia Nazi buddies who were heavily armed to release his confiscated cattle. The Federal government backed down yesterday to a bunch of Neo nazi shit kickers. Add to this menagerie of assholes is that Bundy is claiming his right to continue bilking us out of our money the fact that “my Mormon faith teaches me I have a right to this land.” What a load of shit!

Now contrast this with the treatment of Western Shoshone Tribal members Carrie and Mary Dann in 1998 after grazing cattle on land that was rightfully theirs since 1973 the US government ordered them off of their own land. In 2003 Federal agents with back up from local cowboys swept onto the Dann sisters traditional grazing lands in helicopters, on ATVs, and on horseback they confiscated 504 horses that belonged to the Dann sisters. at one point elder Clifford Dann doused himself with gasoline to stop federal agents to no avail. In the end the Federal government hung a 3 million dollar bill around the Dann sisters necks and kept their horses. Mary Dann passed on in 2005 at the age of 82.
Carrie is still with us. The Western Shoshone land claim was upheld by the United Nations. The United States refuses to acknowledge the treaty.

So here we are in 2014 and white ranchers are still using their faith to steal our land and Indigenous people who have a real and spiritual claim to the land are still being herded, harassed, and intimidated into giving it up. Had Cliven Bundy been an Indian we would be talking about a dead Indian. White millionaires just have an amazing ability to get whatever they want.
Never Mind Cliven Bundy: Here’s the Real David vs. Goliath Story Between Ranchers and Feds

Shoshone sisters have battled against the U.S. over land and cattle.

By Evelyn Nieves
The kicker to this story is that while the Bureau of Land Management’s fight against the Danns claimed the sisters' herds were overgrazing—and thus harming—the land, much of the land the Danns have fought for has been leased to gold mining companies that have conducted resource-intensive extraction methods.

The land surrounding the Danns' ranch sits atop one of the most significant deposits of gold ever found in the United States. Only a few months after the Danns' horses were first rounded up, Nevada's headlines blared about gold finds in Crescent Valley, at the exact locations where the horses were removed. Most of the world's largest gold mining companies have some interest in the land, which involves using cyanide to extract minuscule amounts of gold from rock. Because the gold dust sits under the water table, it also involves pumping 20,000 to 70,000 gallons of water per minute every day and moving tons of soil and rock, leaving open pits. The extraction methods are so energy-intensive that the production of a single gold ring generates 20 tons of waste land.

Carrie Dann is no Tea Party hero. But she vows to fight until her last breath.

"Right is right," she said in an interview. "And wrong is wrong."
Video: Dann Sisters' Battle to Save Their Cattle Is Stark Contrast to That of Cliven Bundy

Nor is this prejudice limited to Indians:

Cliven Bundy and the Tyranny All Around Us

How would the Nevada standoff be different if the rancher were black? American history has already answered that question.

By Ta-Nehisi Coates
I've been laughing my way through the Cliven Bundy fiasco because, as Jamelle Bouie suggests, there may be no better example of racist privilege than the right to flout the government's authority and then back its agents down at gunpoint. Bouie asks, hypothetically, how we'd respond if Bundy were black.

Inasmuch as this is even a question, American history has already answered it (emphasis added):In an 18-month investigation, The Associated Press documented a pattern in which black Americans were cheated out of their land or driven from it through intimidation, violence and even murder.

In some cases, government officials approved the land takings; in others, they took part in them. The earliest occurred before the Civil War; others are being litigated today. Some of the land taken from black families has become a country club in Virginia, oil fields in Mississippi, a major-league baseball spring training facility in Florida ...
Coates's position is self-evidently true. Roughly 0% of the gun-totin' far-right "patriots" would rush to defend a black, Latino, or Native rancher from the feds. And if it were a Muslim rancher, forget it!

Then there's this idiocy. Some right-wingers are seriously comparing Bundy the welfare cowboy to Indians:

The Cliven Bundy Standoff: Wounded Knee Revisited?

By Mary W.Cattle became the successor to buffalo in the late 1860s and early 1870s. That was the era when the ancestors of Cliven Bundy settled in what was to become the State of Nevada, and began to graze cattle in what would later be called the Bunkerville Grazing Allotment. The Bundy family made peaceful and productive use of that allotment for more than 120 years, mixing their labor with the land to create original wealth.

Unfortunately, the Bundy family—like the American Indians—had been living on a reservation: They were never allowed to exercise ownership of their grazing “allotment,” in much the same way that Indians were not permitted to have clear title to their lands. The land on which the Bundy family raised cattle was “owned” by the government, and the Bundys were required to pay rent—in the form of grazing fees—for the “privilege” of making productive use of it. The public-land grazing system has been described as “the nation’s most conspicuous and extensive flirtation with socialism”—except, perhaps, for the Indian Reservation System.
I responded to this with a tweet:

BlueCornComics ‏@bluecorncomics
"Bundy Standoff: Wounded Knee Revisited?" More like Trail of Tears revisited. Locals steal land and feds do nothing. http://theresistanceunited.com/2014/04/12/the-cliven-bundy-standoff-wounded-knee-revisited/

Never mind that Bundy's parents bought the ranch in 1948. Whenever they bought it, they never owned more than grazing rights to the Bunkerville allotment. In contrast, the Indians owned the land itself.

Conservatives = hypocrites

More tweets by myself and others show the hypocrisy of Cliven Bundy and his far-right supporters:

BlueCornComics ‏@bluecorncomics
Bundy says feds can't take the land his ancestors took from the Indians. Because Doctrine of Discovery, Manifest Destiny, and white power.

deneeshka ‏@deneeshka
I am a Native American and I look forward to reclaiming my ancestral lands at #BundyRanch. pic.twitter.com/TR20tduzVq

indigenista ‏@Indigeneesta
BundyRanchers not once acknowledged the #Paiute nation, the real "owners" of the land. #IndigenousNationhood

BlueCornComics ‏@bluecorncomics
Indians agree with Bundy: Ownership claims of the first inhabitants supersede those of the federal government. Give the land back to them.

BlueCornComics ‏@bluecorncomics
Bundy gets different treatment from Dann sisters. Feds ordered them off their own land and sent in copters and ATVs.

BlueCornComics ‏@bluecorncomics
Conservatives hate that the federal gov't owns land. So let's put it in private hands and give it back to the Indians. Win-win for everyone!

BlueCornComics ‏@bluecorncomics
A solution for everyone: Feds give land back to Indians, no more gov't handouts, and ranchers and miners pay full market rates to tribes!

For more on the subject, see Cliven Bundy the Welfare Cowboy.

1 comment:

John Wells said...

Two points need to be corrected in this article. 1. Cliven Bundy's land is in Paiute country not in the Western Shoshone Nation so the Treaty of Ruby Valley does not apply to this issue. I do not know the status of Paiute / United States relations. 2. Mr. Russell describes Carrie and Mary Dann as Western Shoshone Tribal members. Carrie would be very quick to correct him, noting that she is not a tribal member, she is a citizen of the Western Shoshone Nation. The treaty states the it is being made between the United States of America and "The Western Bands of the Western Soshonee Nation of Indians". Recognizing the Western Shoshone Nation as a sovereign state. People are citizen of their respective countries not, as an example, members of the United States of America. As Western Shoshone we may be enrolled in different bands, but we are citizens of the Western Shoshone Nation a very important distinction.