Federal government sells seized cattle amid dispute over tribal rights

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RENO -- Despite a protest and pleas from a human rights panel, the U.S. government on Friday sold off cattle seized in a dispute over tribal rights and grazing.

The Bureau of Land Management sold the 232 cattle for $59,262 to three unnamed out-of-state bidders who submitted faxed bids.

The government confiscated 227 cattle last month from Western Shoshone sisters Carrie and Mary Dann, who are accused of trespassing on federal land without a grazing permit. Some of the cows had calves.

The federal bureau contends that cattle were damaging federal land legally allotted to neighboring ranchers. Tribal leaders maintain their livestock may graze independent of U.S. regulation, based on a 1863 treaty.

About 50 tribal members, states' rights activists and others picketed Friday at the land bureau's state headquarters, carrying signs that read "Don't Buy Stolen Cattle," "BLM Cattle Rustlers" and "Honor the Ruby Valley Treaty."

There were no arrests.

A day earlier, the Organization of American States' human rights panel had urged the bureau to delay the auction until it could prepare a report on related complaints from the sisters.

"Legally and morally, the United States is wrong here. This is a denial of the human rights of the Western Shoshone people," said Julie Fishel, a lawyer for the Western Shoshone Defense Project.

A spokeswoman for the bureau said OAS had no jurisdiction.

The cattle confiscation was the bureau's third in 15 months in Nevada.


On the Net:

Land bureau: http://www.blm.gov


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