Nevada Tribal Leader, 81, Sues BLM for $30 million

Article by Scott Sonner as it appears in RGJ.com

“The perversity that permeates Obama’s BLM runs deeper than just massacring the last of our native wild horses and burros, they target our Native American brothers, as well!” ~ R.T. Fitch, president/co-founder of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Violating Constitutional Rights is the Core of BLM’s Business Plan

photo courtesy of Danny Brady

The federal government seized Raymond Yowell’s cattle — all 132 head — and hauled them across the state and sold them at auction.

Then the U.S. Bureau of Land Management sent Yowell a bill for $180,000 for back grazing fees and penalties, and later garnished part of his Social Security benefits.

Now, nearly a decade later, the 81-year-old former chief of the Western Shoshone National Council is fighting back. He’s suing the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, the Treasury Department and others for $30 million. Yowell claims the government violated his constitutional rights, broke an 1863 treaty and saddled him with a debt that he doesn’t owe.

“There’s no other way,” said Yowell, a member of the Te-Moak Band of Western Shoshone, who still works a small cattle ranch with his son in northeast Nevada’s high desert.

“I kept writing letters to them saying I didn’t have a debt with them, that I never signed a contract,” he told The Associated Press. “But they just ignored it. There’s no use talking to them.”

Yowell said in the lawsuit filed earlier this month he was exercising his “treaty guaranteed vested rights” to be a herdsman when he turned his cattle out in May 2002 to graze on the historic ranges of the South Fork Indian Reservation.

BLM officials said the tribe’s Te-Moak Livestock Association held a federal permit to graze cattle on the public land in northeast Nevada from 1940 to 1984, but had quit paying the fees to the BLM in 1984, claiming the tribe held title to the land.

Despite earlier federal and U.S. Supreme Court decisions against them, the Indian leaders asserted then — as Yowell does today — that the land is still theirs as dictated by the Treaty of Ruby Valley of 1863.

Under the treaty, the United States formally recognized Western Shoshone rights to some 60 million acres stretching across Nevada, Idaho, Utah and California. But the Supreme Court’s 1979 ruling determined the treaty gave the U.S. government trusteeship over tribal lands, and that it could claim them as “public” or federal lands.

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74 comments on “Nevada Tribal Leader, 81, Sues BLM for $30 million

  1. and so it goes…the Indians, the wild horses….what is sacred to the BLM/US government??…..GREED…GREED…GREED $$$$$…..nothing but the almighty dollar…..

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    • It just wasn’t enough that we displaced them all when we “discovered” and “conquered” their native lands. No, now we come back and twist their remaining rights out of their hands through the use of an 1863 treaty that was designed to further deprive them. This, like all of the treaties made with the native tribes was never meant to offer a level playing field to them nor did the US government have any intention of honoring those provisions favorable to the tribes!

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      • history teaches that the US government made treaties and then rewrote or revoked them whenever it was expedient to do so. Many tribes were “given” lands to live on that were generally of no use to anyone else to keep them away from lands settlers wanted. It is like treating humans like cattle and penning them up for control purposes as you would livestock. Often times these lands would be taken back or boundaries changed when something of value was found to be located there ie. minerals, oil , etc. In fact you don’t really own your own house or land – – don’t pay “taxes” on it and see who owns it. You have , what I call, seller’s rights so you can live there provided you pay the state and municipal fees – – don’t pay and they put a tax lien on the property and if that “debt” isn’t satisfied they’ll start legal process to seize the property and auction it off. The land of the free isn’t and its getting worse – – government is even telling you what light bulbs you have to use or more specifically which ones you can’t. If they don’t like something they basically legislate it out of existence or create a law that gives them control. Regardless of your political preference you have to agree the present administration has shown a complete disregard for the constitutional and the President even had the temerity to actually say he would do what he could without Congressional approval whenever he could during his state of the union address. These conflicts between the Federal government and state’s rights will become more frequent with unfortunate individuals caught in the middle suffering at the hands of either or both – – this isn’t a Hollywood movie , happy endings aren’t guaranteed .

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    • In the trustee agreement, the government considers the Indian as a ward of the state. We all know how that works just look at the Peltier case.

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    • Could the “NAME” Raymond Yowell be the socalled “contract”(STATE property via “birth registration”) with the “assumption” that Ray is “ITS” registered agent(operating said agency for the Benefit of the STATE)? ..And could filing a claim(lawsuit) against what is “perceived” as one’s own “Interest” be a breach of fiduciary duty, and a violation of the agent/principal relationship?

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    • yes, sounds like the goverment: The goverment “big brother” gives and the goverment “big brother” takes it away again for now real reason just because”

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  2. Oh Yeah !!!! BLM, not only Bureau of Liars and murderers now we have them viciously attacking people on Social security, geeze this man is 81 years old, come on, the Greed with these people never ends does it, Did everyone notice it is always those who cannot defend themselves???????? They are sure indeed in need of a shake down…………………………They should be helping this man, not assaulting him????????

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    • I so agree with you the BLM are disgusting in the way they think they can push people around and steal their property (animals). I hope he wins his case we all need to support this man for his courage in standing up and fighting back. God bless him.

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      • Sadly his case was ‘dismissed’ by Federal Judge. He got NO justice…at least NOT in the earthly realm.

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  3. Prime Nevada history and those we are also up against. This is the method and attitude. We get lots of response because we are a diverse group compared to this man who has a real claim from the past.

    How do we claim our wild horses From this aggressive agency who does as the government wants? mar

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    • AMEN, And I pray he gets every penny he’s asking for. Take it from the BLM employees who did this; show them that just following orders don’t mean you are innocent but instead an accomplish (forgive my spelling)

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  4. Wonder how many white ranchers the BLM sues for back grazing fees and garnishes their social security? Wonder how many gas frackers BLM or EPA has sued for polluting? Wild horse treaties, Native American treaties, BLM has broken just about every one. White man still speaks with forked tongue. Same old story, just getting really old.

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  5. I just heard rumor this past week, of one cranky horse hating whitey cattleman who is way behind on grazing fees. Wish they would get all over him. Wondering what it takes, how many years past due & head of cattle grazing, etc. Feel for this elder chief. All the land once did belong to the native people.

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    • Yes!
      Like, the land of Alaska belonged to its Native People once upon a time…But, of course the land was taken away by the federal government who promoted its head of chief to manage our lands…BLM

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  6. http://www.topclassactions.com/lawsuit-settlements/lawsuit-news/1231-cobell-v-salazar-indian-trust-settlement-approved-

    Cobell v. Salazar Indian Trust Settlement Approved

    By Matt O’Donnell

    A federal district judge has given final approval to a $3.4 billion class action lawsuit settlement between the U.S. Department of Interior and hundreds of thousands of Native Americans in the historical Cobell v. Salazar Indian trust class action.
    District Judge Thomas Hogan this week announced the approval of the Cobell v. Salazar settlement, which found the government mismanaged lands held in trust on behalf of Native Americans. The Cobell v. Salazar class action was originally settled in December 2009 and later approved by Congress in November 2010.

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    • The interesting aspects of this lawsuit is that:

      (1) It is a settlement (it didn’t go the full legal route?…someone know?);
      (2) DOI acknowledges that they MISMANAGED Native American trust accounts (MONEY); and,
      (3) DOI acknowledges that they MISMANAGED LANDS!

      This involves human beings, just think what they do to wildlife, dirt, water, air and other natural resources.

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  7. The 1863 treaty was a typical piece of government garbage which allowed the Shoshone to remain on their tribal lands, but reserved the right for the U.S. Government, the military, railroads, miners, and exploiters of every stripe to make use of those lands as they pleased. Naturally, there was a provision to remove the Shoshone to reservations at any time. This treaty was vital to Lincoln’s prosecution of the Civil War, since it secured overland transport of California gold. Among countless recent exploitations: uranium mining and other extractive industries, nuclear and other weapons testing, and the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Storage Facility.

    I have no idea how many lawsuits the Shoshone have filed, but this is a footnote to one: “The Western Shoshone are challenging the fundamental doctrines of federal Indian law — “plenary power” and “trusteeship” — on the ground that these are extensions of Christian nationalism inherent in the colonial process.”

    And the UN supports the Shoshone claims: “In 2006: The United States was found in violation of human rights of Native Americans and was urged to take immediate action. In an historic and strongly worded decision by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) the United States was urged to “freeze”, “desist” and “stop” actions being taken or threatened to be taken against the Western Shoshone Peoples of the Western Shoshone Nation.”

    As Western Shoshone Tribal Leader Corbin Harney once said:
    “We are going to have to unite as a people and say no more! We, the people, are going to have to put our thoughts together to save our planet here. We only have One Water…One Air…One Mother Earth.”

    Truer words …

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  8. Oh Boy! I hope this man wins. Maybe the BLM will be so broke they can’t do anymore roundups and will have to return our wild horses back to their ranges. Sir, I hope you win. It’s about time that the wind is blown out of the BLM’s sails and they drop like a bomb. Won’t we all be laughing and demanding our horses back — out of corrals all over the U.S. and back to their rightful lands. Let’s all pray they get their ass___s kicked good.

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  9. Everyone needs to read the Gospel of the Redman to really appreciate the native American Indian and to read how the Whiteman raped them.

    I have long supported the real natives of this land and will continue to do so for the rest of my life!

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      • I am Caucasian woman from Yugoslav ancestry. Not ALL white people ‘rape’ the land. We are ALL indigenous on this planet. There are only two types of ‘humans’: 1) Service to self only, cynical 2) Service to self in relation to all other living, sentient beings and elements aka, empathic. These two characteristics are found in all human beings world wide.

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  10. Having grown up in Arizona with Native American friends, I read a lot about the history of atrocities commited against the ancestors of my friends and have watched it contnue to this day. But I also found myself thinking this morning about how we all seem to refer to “Obama’s BLM” as if it is some sort of separate entity like BP or Exxon – when it is actually OUR BLM and OUR GOVERNMENT – and WE are not doing much about dealing with it from that perspective. Even the court systems are on OUR payroll but are not working for US! We play by their rules, but they change the rules when we have them up against the wall. WE pay the salaries of everyone of these people – and I’m finally starting to understand why so many people I know have chosen to put EXEMPT on the tax forms each employer asks us to fill out when we start a job – because they are not willing to have their “taxes” be used by the government in ways they don’t support! I’m now old enough to remember the 60 Minutes show (that outed the government spending years ago) about hammers and toilet seats being billed at the cost of several hundred dollars per piece, and a few months ago there was a news story about there being such an overage of dollar coins being printed by the US MINT that they now are renting (with our taxes LOL) warehouses to store (100 of thousands coins printed for the last 10 years for each year that retailers and consumers DON’T WANT TO USE “but” no one has TOLD them to STOP minting them…so they just keep on!). And they (“our representatives in Congress”) keep everyone in a state of fear by threatening Medicare, Social Security, school programs, ad naseum. Perhaps the big green head of the “wizard” that frightens all of us is just an illusion…and we need to looking behind the curtain? That’s what grassroots movements have always been – the people coming together and demanding to see the Wizard – and finding out he’s not as powerful as we were all led to believe? Just my thought on a Sunday morning….LOL

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    • Jade:

      With regard to minting coins…you talking about the “penny” that takes 500% more to produce than what it is worth? Yes, that does seem to meet the stupid test.

      Bigger issue is, as you have state…the lack of acknowledgement of the will of the people AND common sense…to include our public lands management.

      The penny bothers me much, but not near the outrage I have for what is happening to our public lands and the wildlife on them….especially the paucity of wild equines remaining.

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  11. It sounds like the current laws require that they have a permit from BLM to graze on that land. Regardless of any past wrongs done to native americans, the current laws are the current laws and apply to everyone, even native americans. White ranchers get trespassed and fined by BLM as well if they don’t follow the rules. And since I am sure that most of the people posting here are against cattle grazing on the public lands, why is it okay that native americans run cattle out there and not white people? Native American owned cattle do as much damage as white owned cattle. And I am guessing that the Native American people would not want the mustangs competeing with their cattle for grass either. The Navajo Nation is trying to open a horse slaughter plant on their reservation to take care of the explosion of free roaming horses that are damageing reservation lands.
    http://navajotimes.com/news/2011/0711/072111horses.php

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    • BLM Nevada has been kickin’ the Shoshone in the (pick your body part) for eons. Look up Mt. Tenabo, a site sacred to the Shoshone; Barrick Mining (which isn’t even an American company) has rendered this mountain an open pit cyanide heap. The Shoshone been fighting this for decades.
      And it isn’t as simple as grazing cattle on Public land. It’s the idea of a man who worked hard his whole life, paid his taxes (whether he wanted to or not) and earned every penny of his Social Security. What kind of monsters garnish the paltry retirement check of an 81 year-old man??

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  12. There is a saying that goes something like this:
    “The mind is a very good slave, but a very bad master”.
    We have to look at our government in that light.

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  13. Jade, I have often thought of that very same thing…the Wizard of OZ. WE are the ones that hold the power. There is a little something that every one of us can do. Compare it to brushing your teeth every day. Just make it part of your daily routine.

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    • Louie,

      Question wasn’t whether the decision was just and I could argue on the number of plaintiffs and award, it is questionable; my question was did it go the full legal route or did DOI decide to settle out of court with court approval (Congress too) settlement.

      Not that I am against what appears to be a gross injustice to Mr Yowell, but is this tribe friendly to wild equines or do they not have the right to decide on their own. After all, many tribes have bought into the whiteman’s lies and trash wildlife for profit…..many of which NEVER had equines as part of their culture.

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  14. Just a layman’s guess, Denise, but I’m thinking DOI doesn’t want or need any more lawsuits/bad press…for a number of reasons. You might be able to track down the particulars on that case. It’s probably on file somewhere. It might make an interesting case study for us.

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  15. It seems to me that the Treaty should be honored

    Under the treaty, the United States formally recognized Western Shoshone rights to some 60 million acres stretching across Nevada, Idaho, Utah and California.
    Yowell said in the lawsuit filed earlier this month he was exercising his “treaty guaranteed vested rights” to be a herdsman when he turned his cattle out in May 2002 to graze on the historic ranges of the South Fork Indian Reservation.

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  16. The issue of slaughter/free-roaming Wild Horses on Tribal lands is something that needs to be addressed, for certain. For my part, I would like to see that discussion be between Wild Horse advocates and Tribal leaders,leaving the Department of Interior/BIA OUT of the discussion. That seems to be where the trouble starts.

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  17. We should sue for 30 million acres of land, which was unjustly taken from the FEDERALLY PROTECTED Wild Horses and Burros. The BLM/ Department of Interior did not honor that trustee agreement, either.

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    • Now you got it, Louie. Compensation. Get it back or replace what was stolen. But look at the track record. We are like the Dann sisters now. Many horses taken, many horses died and died in cruelty, the few left are vulnerable. One sister died before their UN decision came through.

      Time and money. How do we maneuver for what we need most and at the same time to stop the loss of the wild herds and their lands?

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      • That is their plan, Mar…when the deadhead American public figures it out….it will be tooooooooooo late.

        But I think, with the debt problems we will be able to win..not easy, but doable.

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      • More about the Dann Sisters:
        http://ncseonline.org/nae/docs/shoshone.html

        Read the part about the Dann’s brother threatening self-immolation. Is this what it’s going to take to oppose the BLM on all fronts? Read about the gold mines in area. Leaves little doubt about BLM priorities in the West, and DOI priorities where the BLM doesn’t control land.

        And this: “The most significant case was decided in 1985, when the Supreme Court declared that payment to the Secretary of the Interior constituted payment to the Shoshone.”

        When it comes to “We, the ‘little’ people”, I bet the government’s secret memos read, “Screw ’em, baby, screw ’em!”

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    • Now there is something to really look into suing the Government for the land they are stealing from the Wild Mustangs, we are the Caretakers of the Mustangs , the American people in a sense own them, I believe we can sue in their name, Now this is a real possibility !!!!!! I think that this would work, In Lieu of payment for the Land , we could make them put them all back where they belong on their Land !!!!!! I think this could prove to be a simple way of saving their lives, and getting them their Land Back…………………….and their FREEDOM, This could be HUGE !!!!!

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  18. This is what I have never understood. The BLM have always behaved as if the wild horses and burros belong to them. They do NOT, they belong to the American Taxpayer. But a lawsuit to try and establish that would take years and years, by which time there will not be any WH&B left. And that is exactly what they are counting on. To out last us. The only way to get anyone’s quick attention, IMHO, is with our vote, and let’s fact it 2012 is right around the corner. We need to start letting all candidates, both Democrat and Republic, know that we are paying attention. If they don’t make a 360 degree turn around and get the Secretary of the Interior to do his job according to the DOI’s mission statement, and not just what the cattle ranchers and big oil want they will not have our vote in 2012. You would think the BLM have had enough of bad publicity, but I guess old habits die hard. It is time for the Wizard of Washington is exposed. We do have the power, we just need to use it.

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    • Rhonda, All those reps who send us their form letters and claim a BLM influenced ignorance to all this but who sit on committees and vote for what the committees put forth Need to be Held Responsible For This. They have ‘overlooked’ the urgent crisis of our wild herds and captives and made policy which has led to their demise!! For years they live in a vacume and we have not made a dent in their proclaimed innocent-ignorance. This last batch that was elected seem to be unaware and unable to comprehend what their actions are resulting in; the violent removals and multiple deaths of wild horses of all ages.

      These people are all guilty of the removals, deaths, break up of family bands and the stagnation the Wild Horse and Burro Program is wading through and calls management! Let them know they are part of the problem and have not tried to be part of the solution American Wild Horse Lovers seek!

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  19. I pray that you knock the BLM right off their high horse, Raymond.
    BLM thinks they can stick their GREEDY FINGERS INTO EVRYTHING!

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  20. Hope you win Raymond Yowell. This is just not acceptable what the BLM is doing. Why isn’t our federal government going after illegal immigrants like this? Maybe you should claim that it is inhumane for BLM to do this to you and your cows. That is what illegal immigrants are claiming for deporting them. Our government has become so backasswards on everything. What drug are they taking?

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  21. Mr. Raymond Yowell, I am writing you sir as a fellow native American, although I’m a Hawaiian, I have spent my entire life here in the west, I believe that you sir are a victim of the greed of the system which is corrupt, and that you are due the damages that resulted by heavy hand, greed senator from Nevada named Harry Reid, who needs to be brought to justice, and should pay you and your family for all that he has caused to happen to you, you have my full support, which amount to not very much but my pen and my prayers, it is a damn shame that the very people elected to serve, turn out to be that which is contrary to the office they are elected too, Senator Harry Reid and his family owe you for the damages that they caused, if I can help you with my limited resources please let me know, I can write a hell of a letter, and all of this really pisses me off!

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  22. SO WHO STARTED THE FIGHT ~~~ THE US GOVERNMENT CRIMINALS == TRUTH & FACT !! I HAVE ALWAY TOLD THE CHILDERN THAT SOME OF THE BIGGEST CRIMINALS ARE IN OUR GOVERNMENT ~~~ TEACH ~ TEACH ~ TEACH OUR CHILDERN TRUE HISTORY ~` GOVERNMENT IN THEIR OWN WORDS == C~SPAN & YOUTUBE OVERSIGHT HEARINGS !! TO FIGHT THIS ALL CITIZEN PIN AMERICA CAR FLAGS ON OUR CHEST & BACK [ MY DREAM IS THAT ALL STATE CAPITALS ACROSS OUR NATION, SO IT CAN GO DOWN IN HISTORY] . IF OUR CRIMINAL GOVERNMENT SHOOT THEY HAVE TO SHOOT THOUGH THE AMERICA FLAG . I DID WASH. STATE CAPITAL !! ++++ GOD BLESS AMERICA ++++

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  23. It is time for our federal gov leaves the indians and their land ,horses and anything else they are trying to do . The American Indians has suffered enough from the hands of everyone that doesn’t help them .

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  24. You know, It’s not like this isn’t trouble enough, but ~ding ding ding~ its not Obamas BLM, BLM has been here lonnngggg before the current administration, and it looks like it will be here lonnngggg after. The issue here is the difference between the agreements made with Native Americans and the Bundy’s of the world. BLM has a rabid history of mis-deeds and THAT is what needs to be dealt with. This kind of stuff will continue as long as the BLM is allowed to function with out repair.

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  25. Many of us posting here did not realize this is very ‘old’ news. Looks like the chief filed his suit 3 years ago! Does anybody have any news about this suit?

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  26. Here is the letter sent to Mark Takano my congressman:

    Some say Waco? This isn’t a religious nut, that the FBI is not reading the bible with Cliven like they did with David and, it’s not about gun sales being legal or not, what it is about is cows eating grass, like cow do and have done apparently, for over 150 years, the same cows the same family, in the same state, 150 years, my question is, what do we know about the other 52, who have ALREADY lost there ranches? Which we need to know to understand what it is, that has taken place here, and if need be to establish a pattern of conduct, and players and should there be improprieties of a questionable nature, or perhaps morally and/or illegal actions, by those players, then accountability in the form of justice in a proportional, constitutional, and correct measure, to correct, and compensate those damaged by those actions, and most importantly, send a clear message to those who understand that business as usual influence peddling, is now unusual and over, as well as, they are now on notice. What do you think Mark? I would like a written response please.

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  27. Just curious, what is the penalty in Nevada for Cattle Rustling? And, just a suggestion, but, you should also charge each perpetrator who personally engaged in the theft, fraud and miscarriage of justice under Civil RICO statutes. Look it up – go after them where it hurts … you will win this!

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    • In Nevada intentionally stealing livestock (of any value) owned by another person; or domesticated animals or birds with an aggregate value of $250 or more (§ 205.220)

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  28. I just wonder when the people of these great United States are going to realize that the federal and our individual state governments owns nothing. By force over more than two hundred years the federal government has forced and taken lands from the native American Indians in every state, forced them to live on reservations and now barely recognize them as citizens of the United States. Their lands, the oil, gold, silver and other minerals found on their property now belong to the government who eventually sold it to individuals or corporations. We the people of the United States are now and always been the government. Governments and all elected persons to office survive from our taxes and therefore are our employees. Many of the laws and regulations passed by these persons during their terms in office are for their monetary benefit while in or out of office. We should be the boss to our employees rather than they be the boss to us. Our Constitution is still the law of the land. JUST MY THOUGHTS!!!

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  29. i just now saw the article i think the treaty is a contract a legal contract between the government and the us government negotiating for land the tribe resided on both side agreed to this treaty (contract) the tribal people need to know the wording word by word if it the treaty was changed by the government that is a breach of contract because the treaty is the law of the landany changes to the treaty must be negotiated by both side or the contract is broken making the government breach of contract and what was negotia6ted for must be returned to the rightful owners i think i typed theis the right way

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  30. One very important thing you failed to incorporate into this dialog, that is the other 52 ranchers, who were systematically forced out over a short amount of time, this is the variable of unknown, that is a very important part of that which has happen here, if 150 years count for anything it for a deeper look as to what has happened here, these ranchers know each other, trade with each other, go to church with each other, unless you have lived in a small rural community, you can not know what that means, and value what it has done for this great nation of ours, those other 52, or 53 matter, MATTER a hell of a lot, I don’t know but, I bet you’ll kind that the time line, of when he stopped paying taxes and the slow systematic losses of the other 52, reveal a pattern, and just that question, “what about the other 52?” needs to be answered.

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  31. This just keeps getting worse and worse, the government needs to be bitch slapped back to 1776 and these “public” lands, back to the states and tribes of the areas, the greed and corruption of politicians at all levels of government is out of control.

    Like

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