Working the Range: Essays on the History of Western Land Management and the Environment

By John R. Wunder | Go to book overview

JOHN R. WUNDER


3
No More Treaties: The Resolution of 1871 and the Alteration of Indian Rights to Their Homelands

In the spring of 1981, the United States Congress and Air Force discovered that the $33.8-billion missile system proposed for construction in eastern Nevada would violate a 117-year- old Indian treaty, the Treaty of Ruby Valley made in 1863 between representatives of President Abraham Lincoln and Timoak, Moho-a, Buck, and nine other leaders of the Western Shoshone nation. That treaty recognized the formal boundaries of the Western Shoshone in portions of the present states of Utah, Idaho, and Nevada. This land was designated the home of the Western Shoshone where today over 4,000 descendants of the signers reside. 1

The Treaty of Ruby Valley was one of over 350 treaties made between the United States and American Indian tribes. Treaties had been made until 1871, the year Congress abolished all future treaty-making powers with Native Americans. The treaty abolition rider was attached to the Indian Appropriations Act for the fiscal year of 1871 and it stated:

That hereafter no Indian nation or tribe within the territory of the United States shall be acknowledged or recognized as an independent nation, tribe, or power with whom the United States may contract by treaty: Provided further, That nothing herein contained shall be construed to invalidate or impair the obligation of any treaty heretofore lawfully made and ratified with any such Indian nation or tribe. 2

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