Ian Zabarte on Yucca Mountain & Shoshone Rights

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Ian Zabarte is Principal Man of the Western Shoshone

NEVADA VIEWS: Nuclear tests and the Shoshone people Ian Zabarte Special to the Review-Journal, June 27, 2020


REGARDING Gary Martin’s June 15 Review-Journal article, “Nuke test rumors spur Nevada lawmakers”: As a Shoshone, we always had horses. My grandfather always told me, “Stop kicking up dust.” Now I understand that it was because of the radioactive fallout.

To hide the impacts from nuclear weapons testing, Congress defined Shoshone Indian ponies as “wild horses.” There is no such thing as a wild horse. They are feral horses, but the Wild Horse and Burrow Acts of 1971 gave the Bureau of Land Management the affirmative act to take Shoshone livestock while blaming the Shoshone ranchers for destruction of the range caused by nuclear weapons testing. My livelihood was taken and the Shoshone economy destroyed by the BLM. On the land, radioactive fallout destroyed the delicate high desert flora and fauna, creating huge vulnerabilities where noxious and invasive plant species took hold. Read more

Ian Zabarte had this to say in a recent Congressional Hearing

“I just want to emphasize that Yucca Mountain is Shoshone property recognized under the 1863 Treaty of Ruby Valley and it’s not going to happen. It’s not workable. It’s not doable because of that. And that is the likely reason why the application was withdrawn in the first place. But that wasn’t argued in the case that came up. Yucca Mountain would be an ongoing research and development project, not a solution. It’s in the biosphere. It’s above the water table and the original intent of deep geologic disposal with sub-seabed below the water table and what we’re looking at Yucca Mountain, it’s just a matter of time before that radiation comes out and my people expect to be around another 10,000 years with your help.

“We see our food there, we see our resources there and we need the pure water, pristine water, something that is very rare now on this planet. Pristine water’s what we need for our survival, it’s our religion. We practice these living life ways in relation to the land. It’s our identity and we expect to be there so Yucca Mountain is not going to be a solution, period.

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