Western Shoshone ranchers and sisters, Carrie and Mary Dann, fought for decades with the federal government for the right to graze their cattle on ancestral lands. Although they ultimately lost, a new collection preserves the records of their long struggle.
Mary Dann passed away in 2005 and her surviving sister, Carrie, still lives near Battle Mountain on land her ancestors settled centuries ago.
A new collection on display at the University of Nevada, Reno, records the long history of the Dann sisters and their nonprofit, the Western Shoshone Defense Project, which lost its fight with the Bureau of Land Management over grazing access to their ancestral lands.
Mary Gibson is the project archivist and relative of the sisters. She says the subject of sovereign rights is still relevant as mining and extraction companies continue to gain access to public lands.
"What's going on is they're taking much of Western Shoshone belongings that they find out on the public lands, and they consider it theirs, and so we don't even have access," she says.
Gibson says Carrie Dann donated 120 boxes of correspondences, legal cases and other documents to UNR to be used for scholarly work on indigenous rights.