The 68-year-old Bundy recognizes no federal authority in the matter. If he owed grazing fees, he claimed they would be owed to the state of Nevada, which entered the United States on Halloween, 1864. Because the Civil War was going on, the Nevada Constitution contained a “paramount allegiance clause,” which is seriously inconvenient for anybody claiming, as Bundy does, a right to ignore the feds.
The year before Nevada was admitted, the US signed the Treaty of Ruby Valley, which recognized the Western Shoshone as owners of the dirt Cliven Bundy is claiming the right to use because of his “pioneer” pedigree. In 1979, the Indian Claims Commission awarded the Shoshone $26 million in compensation for land lost to “settler encroachment” while the federal government looked the other way. Those encroaching settlers would be who Cliven Bundy cites today as originators of his right to graze his cattle.
The Shoshone refused the money. They had not agreed to sell the land. They did not agree that the land should be used for nuclear testing. Carrie and Mary Dann were Shoshone elders who stood up to the abuse. Mary walked on at age 82, in 2005. The 81-year-old Carrie was last arrested in 2007, protesting against the use of Shoshone land for nuclear weapons research.
The Dann Sisters grazed their cattle on land the Bureau of Land Management claimed since 1973, refusing to pay grazing fees based on the Treaty of Ruby Valley, Article VI of the US Constitution, and a report by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States that found the US to be cheating the Shoshone.
In 1992 and again in 2002, armed BLM posses rounded up the Dann Sisters’ cattle and sold them for grazing fees. The New York Times reported in 2002 that the Dann Sisters had been fined $3 million for “trespass.”
When a BLM posse came to round up Cliven Bundy’s cattle, armed “patriots” rode to the rescue. The BLM got about 400 head of Bundy’s cattle and Bundy got about as many supporters, many of them armed, from as far away as Montana. The Washington Post reported on April 10 that a sign at the entrance to the protest camp read “MILITA SIGHN IN.” Cousin Ray said he hoped their shooting was no better than their spelling.
Protestor Richard Mack, a former Arizona Sheriff, told a Fox News camera that the plan was “to put all the women up at the front. If they are going to start shooting, it’s going to be women that are going to be televised all across the world getting shot by these rogue federal officers.”
On April 12, the BLM postponed the circus, giving Bundy’s cattle back and leaving Cousin Ray to wonder where all these lovers of law and liberty were when the women up front were Carrie and Mary Dann?