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Saturday, May 21, 2011

Western Shoshone: The most bombed nation on earth

(Yucca Mountain)
Newe Segobia (meaning “People of Mother Earth”) is also known as the Western Shoshone nation.  The land boundaries of this nation have been clearly defined by Article 5 of the 1863 Ruby Valley Treaty between the Western Bands of the Shoshonee Nation of Indians and the United States of America.  According to, this territory “includes tens of millions of acres, most of Nevada, and portions of Idaho, Utah and Southern California.” reports that not only is this territory “prime real estate for the mining industry,” but it is also being coveted by energy corporations for its geothermal potentialities.  Yucca Mountain, controversial site of the U. S. Department of Energy’s designated nuclear-waste repository, is located within this region, just adjacent to the Nevada National Security Site (formerly the Nevada Test Site).

Because over a thousand “tests” (bombs) have been exploded at the Nevada Test Site, Newe Segobia has been notoriously called the most bombed nation on earth.  Western Shoshones have been forced to live with the health hazards of this radioactivity for decades.  This is horrible enough; however, their spirituality has been even more severely challenged.

Western Shoshone spirituality is integrally tied to Mother Earth. quotes Carrie Dann, “a traditional tribal member” as stating this about the need to protect Yucca Mountain and other Newe Segobia lands:  The Earth is our mother and land provides us with life, like the water and the air.  To take this land from us will be to lead us into a spiritual death.

Corbin Harney (1920-2007) was a shaman (“spiritual leader”) of the Western Shoshones who devoted his life to protecting the Newe’s land.  Since herbology is another integral part of Western Shoshone religion, he was deeply concerned about the loss of healing plants such as pine nuts and choke cherries.  Because animals are part of the Creator’s family, he also mourned the disappearance of antelopes, deer, groundhogs, and sagehens.  Wikipedia describes a vision that he had concerning water.  Harney is quoted as stating:  I was praying to the water and the spirit of the water told me, ‘Pretty soon, I’m going to look like clean water, but  no one is going to use me’ (which occurs when water is contaminated by radioactivity).

Harney’s words still serve as an urgent reminder:  Let’s not destroy the Mother Earth.  Let’s take care of her, and she will take care of us.


Coypright May 21, 2011 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

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