Western Shoshone

The Western Shoshone comprise several Shoshone tribes that are indigenous to the Great Basin and have lands identified in the Treaty of Ruby Valley 1863. They resided in Idaho, Nevada, California, and Utah. The tribes are very closely related culturally to the Paiute, Goshute, Bannock, Ute, and Timbisha tribes. Linguistically, they speak the Western dialect of the Shoshone language. Other Shoshone-speaking groups include the Goshute (Utah-Nevada border), Northern Shoshone (southern Idaho), and Eastern Shoshone (western Wyoming).

Federally recognized Western Shoshone Tribes include Duckwater Shoshone Tribe, Te-Moak Tribe of Western Shoshone Indians of Nevada and its four constituent band councils of Battle Mountain Band, Elko Band, Wells Band and South Fork Band), and Yomba Western Shoshone Tribe (near Austin, Nevada) and Timbisha Shoshone Tribe (in the region surrounding Death Valley, California) and Ely Shoshone Tribe. Other affiliated Tribes include: Owyhee Shoshone Paiute Tribe, Bishop Paiute-Shoshone Tribe, Fallon Paiute-Shoshone Tribe, and the Lone Pine Paiute-Shoshone Tribe.

The Western Shoshone have been engaged in legal battles with the federal government over rights to their land since 1962. In 1979 Congress appropriated $26 million to settle the land claims, but the tribes said they wanted the US to abide by the 1863 treaty and return their lands. In 1985 the US Supreme Court ruled that the settlement extinguishes the land claims, but the tribes have left the money with the government. As recently as 2004, Congress has attempted to force the purchase of Western Shoshone land but this has been opposed by the majority of tribal leaders. Disputes over tribal land and the international recognition by the United Nations of their struggle against the United States government is documented in the 2008 film American Outrage.

Western Shoshone have demonstrated and conducted civil disobedience related to a number of issues as they try to protect their lands and waters; they have called for an end to nuclear testing on their former lands, as well as filing injunctions against gold mining that would result in dewatering of Mount Tenabo, Nevada.

Read more about Western Shoshone:  Notable Western Shoshone

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