The raiders arrived at dawn. Contract cowboys backed by BLM rangers and other heavily armed law enforcement personnel fanned out across the desolate but alluring Nevada countryside to confiscate livestock owned by a family who – under a controversial claim of sovereignty — had allowed them to graze on public lands without paying fees to the federal government.
“They have been overgrazing and damaging the land for years,” asserted BLM spokesman Mike Brown, who also pointed out that the family – the last holdouts in the region – had been fined millions of dollars for trespassing on public land. In defiance of federal judicial rulings and the “consensus” of their representatives, the family persisted in claiming that they had a right to graze cattle on land their ancestors had settled many decades ago. The dispute had been going on for decades, and the institutional patience of the federal government had been exhausted.
Inherited land to be protected
A previous roundup nearly resulted in tragedy when a member of the family doused himself in gasoline and threatened to set himself on fire. The 59-year-old man, who had no previous criminal record, was tackled, beaten by law enforcement officers, arrested, and prosecuted on terrorism-related charges.
After spending several years in prison, that supposed terrorist, Clifford Dann, was allowed to return to the tiny, ramshackle homestead he shares with his 82-year-old sister, Carrie, who is the same age their elder sister Mary was when she died in an accident while repairing a fence in 2005.
Like the Cliven Bundy family, their distant Nevada neighbors, the Dann family spent two decades fighting in federal courts to defend their property against the depredations of the federal government. As members of the Western Shoshone nation, the Dann family had inherited land that was protected by the 1863 Treaty of Ruby Valley and the U.S. Constitution – parchment barricades against aggression that were quickly reduced to ashes by the flame of elite ambitions.
Read full article: Bunkerville Was Not the BLM’s First Rustler’s Roundup