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Federal Officials Seize Cattle in Nevada

Dispute: BLM says two Western Shoshones are grazing their stock illegally on public land.

September 23, 2002|From Associated Press

RENO — As more than 30 armed federal agents stood by Sunday, Bureau of Land Management officials seized 227 head of cattle they say two Western Shoshone sisters were grazing illegally on public land in northeastern Nevada.

Mary and Carrie Dann, who have been at odds with federal authorities for nearly three decades over grazing and land ownership, sharply criticized the operation in Pine Valley, about 60 miles southwest of Elko.

They maintain that the Western Shoshone still own much of Nevada under the 1863 Treaty of Ruby Valley and that the BLM has no jurisdiction over their operation.

"It's domestic terrorism," Carrie Dann said. "Our homelands are threatened by the mightiest and most powerful nation in the world. To do this and take away our livelihood is morally and ethically wrong. We are trying to make a living off Western Shoshone land."

But BLM spokeswoman Jo Simpson said courts have ruled that the land in question is owned by the public, not by the tribe.

"The courts have extinguished the treaty and directed BLM to manage those lands as public lands," she said. "Certainly, an impoundment is something we don't want to do. But the Danns' continued trespass has resulted in severe overgrazing and degradation of the land."

Simpson warned that the BLM would seize about 800 horses in the same area in the future if the Danns fail to remove them.

Wranglers, aided by a helicopter, began the operation shortly before 9 a.m. Eight Dann supporters were escorted from the site without incident for safety reasons before the roundup began, Simpson said.

Dann supporters and BLM officials later clashed over whether the agency has the authority to restrict access on a dirt road leading to the site. Simpson insisted that the BLM never closed the road but merely managed access to the site for safety reasons.

Eureka County Sheriff Ken Jones disagreed, saying a federal vehicle blocked the road. He said it was a county road that must remain open to the public.

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