The Timbisha Shoshone people have inhabited this land since time immemorial.
One of many important points in our tribal history took place in 1863, when the United States Government and the Western Shoshone signed a treaty, known as the Treaty of Ruby Valley. In this treaty, the Western Shoshone agreed to end war and to allow the US access to the land, which extends from Southern California, through Nevada, Utah and into Idaho. The Western Shoshone people did not cede any land to the US with the treaty.
On November 28, 1979 the the Indian Claims Commission (ICC) awarded the Western Shoshone 26 million dollars for the territory. A hearing was held in 1980 to conclude the ICC process. The Western Shoshone asked the government representative what law the United States used to legally acquire the land. The representative could not answer and the people refused the money. Several bills were submitted to Congress to distribute the payments but none succeeded until July 7, 2004 when President Bush signed into law the Western Shoshone Claims Distribution Act.
The tribe received federal recognition in 1983. However, the recognition did not come with a formal land base. We were a landless tribe and did not receive a land base until November 1st, 2000 with the passage of the Timbisha Homeland Act. (See more Timbisha Land Restoration)
Events leading up to creation of this bill include:
1933 – Death Valley National Monument is established by President Hoover. This brings the National Park Service (NPS) and it’s removal policy to the region. The NPS forces the relocation of Shoshone camps several times before a final move to what is now the Timbisha Indian Village, a 40 acre plot of land on the valley floor.
1994 – The California Desert Protection Act is signed into law by President Clinton. The act creates Death Valley National Park, and includes a provision for the Timbisha Shoshone Tribe. Title VII, Section (b) (1) and (2) authorized the Secretary of Interior, in direct consultation with the tribe and other federal agencies, to conduct a study to identify lands suitable for a reservation within the tribe’s aboriginal homelands.
November 1, 2000 – The Timbisha Homeland Act is signed into law by President Clinton. The bill provided for the transfer of 7,500 acres of land in California and Nevada into trust for the tribe. This act created the first tribal reservation within a National Park.