|Clifford Dann||Scott Robert Ladd||5/20/93 10:10 AM|
May 20, 1993
Contact: Scott Robert Ladd 719/633-5229
Colorado Springs, CO -- On May 17, 1993, Clifford Dann was sentenced to 9 months in prison, 2 years supervised probation, and a $5000.00 fine by Judge John McKibben of the U.S. District Court in Reno, Nevada. The sentence stems from Dann's conviction March 3 on charges of assaulting federal law enforcement officers who were rounding up horses owned by Dann's sisters, Mary and Carrie.
While admitting that he lacked evidence to sentence Dann on more serious charges, McKibben declared that he wanted to give Dann the strongest possible sentence "to send a message to activists and the media." McKibben has thus sentenced the issue rather then the man, in violation of Dann's basic civil rights.
This significant miscarriage of justice is an abuse of power by the U.S. courts. The United States government has repeatedly violated its own Constitution and the sovereign rights of the Western Shoshone people. Dann's conviction is merely the latest episode in a long history of conflict between the Shoshone and the U.S. government.
In 1973, an agent of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) requested that the Dann sisters pay fees for grazing livestock on "public lands." Mary and Carrie Dann insist that the 1863 Treaty of Ruby Valley acknowledges their sovereignty over their traditional lands, and that the U.S. cannot require them to pay for using the land.
In 1977, the U.S. Indian Claim Court (ICC) ruled that Shoshone lands had been taken by the U.S. in 1872. Though the court could not prove that the land had been taken, the ICC allocated a payment for the land at the 1872 price of $1.05 per acre. The $26 million judgement was deposited in a Department of Interior Account in the name of the Shoshone people who did not want the money in exchange for their land. A 1985 Supreme Court decision affirmed that the U.S. government had bought the land by paying it
self. None of the money has been accepted by the Shoshone, whose spiritual beliefs forbid selling land. Beginning in April 1992, the BLM began attempting to round up cattle and horses owned by the Dann sisters.
On November 19, 1992, when agents of the Bureau of Land Management attempted to remove Western Shoshone livestock from traditional Shoshone lands, Dann blocked the road with his truck. Dousing himself with gasoline, Dann was prepared to sacrifice himself for his family and livelihood.
Moments after being convinced to leave his truck, Dann was assaulted by federal officers. He was blinded with chemicals and sprayed with fire extinguishers. As a half-dozen federal agents forced Dann to the ground, one officer threatened to break the 59-year-old elder's arm.
Dann was charged with assaulting a federal officer, and taken to trial on March 2. Rather than defend himself in the U.S. courts, Dann decided to use his trial as a tool for arguing Western Shoshone jurisdiction over their lands. Expert testimony on Dann's behalf was ignored by the judge, who proceeded with a trial in which Dann was convicted by a jury. Dann's appeal was flatly denied by the appellate court.
The United States refuses to hear or recognize the words of the Western Shoshone people. This is not a case of one man, one family, or one ranch <BH> it is a case where a dominant society is committing genocide against another people. While U.S. President William Jefferson Clinton deplores "ethnic cleansing" by other nations, his agents "cleansing" the Danns from their land and destroying the self-sufficient culture of the traditional Western Shoshone people.
Clifford Dann is a political prisoner of the United States; he was captured during an armed raid on the sovereign Western Shoshone Nation. The Freedom Alliance calls upon all free people to write their leaders and media to protest of the U.S. court's decision. Totalitarian attacks on human freedom cannot be tolerated by moral people.
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