Sep 23/97: Commemoration of Ruby Valley Treaty


Larry Kibbey
Tuesday, September 23, 1997

The following is a historical commemoration of the signing of the Ruby Valley Treaty of Peace and Frienship contrived between the Western Shoshone Indians and the United States Government and signed on October 1, 1863. Just 134 years old, the Ruby Valley Treaty is a portrayal of the period of time when conflicts between the Indian and whites were coming to an end in the West, however, the enclosed document symbolizes a viewpoint that narrates the activity and attitude of the United States Government and it's agencies, as to being equivalent today as that of 1863 or even 1965 when the Traditional Chief of the Western Shoshone, the late Frank Temoke Sr.(1903-1994), of Ruby Valley, Nevada, signed the article that follows. The Ruby Valley Treaty has never been honored by the Government in any manner of speaking.


April 24, 1965

Our legends tell us how we were brought to this land by the Coyote. We know that we are the first people upon this continent and the true owners. And like the Coyote also we have been subject to much violence since the coming of the white man upon our lands. We of the Western Shoshone Indian people have known that our ancestors were shot, the springs poisoned, germs were spread among our people and we even today are subject to every deceitful and dishonest tricks of attorneys who are supposed to represent us and do not, together with Indian agents in order to steal our lands from us, under the pretense of buying these lands which they say on the other hand that we do not own.

The Treaty of 1863 made in Ruby Valley, Nevada outlines generally the lands which comprise the Western Shoshone Indian Nation. This Treaty was signed by our principal chiefs and headsmen and ratified by the Congress of the United States.

The white man today through his government in Washington is seeking to break this Treaty also in order to steal our lands.

We know that this is not right. Our Treaty was paid for in blood, so I would like to tell you how this Treaty was made.

In the first place the white people at that time (1863) were weak and few in numbers and it was they the white man and his government who came to us asking for a peace treaty. It seems that the white people were at war among themselves which war was called the Civil War and President Lincoln of the United States wanted to get gold from California in order to finance the war. And since the government at this time did not have enough soldiers to guard all of the stage coaches which were carrying this gold across Nevada the only solution was a peace treaty with the people whose lands that stage coaches had to travel which was the lands of the Western Shoshone Indian Nation.

So it was that the white people and the representatives of the United States Government put out the word that they were anxious to meet with the chiefs and the people of the Western Shoshone Indian Nation for the purpose of signing such a treaty. So a date was set and the word was passed by runners and on horseback that there would also be a feast with plenty to eat and then the peace treaty would be signed by both parties, Indians and Whites and that there would be no more fighting. And that the Indians were to come unarmed because they would not need their guns.

And so it was that at the appointed time the Indians together with the chiefs did come to this place in Ruby Valley and they came unarmed and the soldiers together with the government representatives also came but the soldiers had rifles which they stacked in bunches. So when the Indians had all gathered, the soldiers grabbed the rifles and killed an Indian which they had previously captured and brought with them. Then they cut the Indian up and put him in a huge iron pot which they had in those days and they cooked him and then the soldiers aimed their rifles at the heads of the people and forced the people to eat some of this man they had killed. Men, women and children were all forced to eat some of this human flesh while the soldiers held their guns on the people. And it was after this terrible thing which the white man did to our people that the Treaty of 1863 was signed. So it is hard for us of the Western Shoshone people to understand why the white man doesn't wish to keep this Treaty. And why the government insist through its agents and attorneys that this Treaty is no good.

We think that our Treaty has been paid for in blood. And the White man will have to live by this Treaty. All of his conniving and scheming will be for nothing, he will have to live by this Treaty. And like the Coyote whom the white man also has tried to exterminate he also cannot exterminate the Indians. We will continue to hold our Treaty and our lands and no part of our heritage, our birthright to this Mother Earth is for sale.

Frank Temoke Sr.
Chief Western Shoshone Indian Nation
April 24, 1965


Treaty of Peace and Friendship made at Ruby Valley, in the Territory of Nevada, this first day of October, A.D. one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, between the United States of America, represented by the undersigned commisssioner's, and the Western Bands of the Shoshonee Nation of Indians, represented by their Chiefs and Principal Men and Warriors, as follows:

Article I

Peace and friendship shall be hereafter established and maintained between the Western Bands of the Shoshonee nation and the people and government of the United States; and the said bands stipulate and agree that hostilies and all depredations upon the emigrant trains, the mail and telegraph lines, and upon the citizens of the United States within their country, shall cease.

Article 2

The several routes through the Shoshonee country, now or hereafter used by white men, shall be forever free, and unobstructed by the said bands, for the use of the government of the United States, and all emigrants and travellers under its authority and protection, without molestation or injury from them. And if depredations are at any time committed by bad men of their nations, the offenders shall be immediately taken and delivered up to the proper officers of the United States, to be punished as their offenses shall deserve; and the safety of all travellers passing peaceably over either of said routes is hereby guaranteed by said bands.

Military posts may be established by the President of the United States along said routes or elsewhere in their country; and station houses may be erected and occupied at such points as may be necessary for the comfort and convenience of travellers of for mail or telegraph companies.

Article 3

The telgraph and overland stage lines having been established and operated by companies under the authority of the United States through a part of the Shoshonee country, it is expressly agreed that the same may be continued without hindrance, molestation, or injury from the people of said bands, and that their property and the lives and property of passengers in the stages and of the employes of the respective companies, shall be protected by them. And further, it being understood that provision has been made by the government of the United States for the construction of a railway from the plains west to the Pacific ocean, it is stipulated by the said bands that the said railway or its branches may be located, constructed, and operated, and without molestation from them, through any portion of country claimed or occupied by them.

Article 4

It is further agreed by the parties hereto, that the Shoshonee country may be explored and prospected for gold and silver, or other minerals; and when mines are discovered, they may be worked, and mining and agriculture settlements formed, and ranches established whenever they may be required. Mills may be erected and timber taken for their use, as also for building and other purposes in any part of the country claimed by said band.

Article 5

It is understood that the boundaries of the country claimed and occupied by said bands are defined and described by them as follows: On the north by Wong-goga-da Mountains and Shoshone River Valley; on the west by Su-non-to-yah Mountains or Smith Creek Mountains; on the south by Wi-co-bah and the Colorado Desert; on the east by Po-ho-no-be Valley or Steptoe Valley and Great Salt Lake Valley.

Article 6

The said bands agree that whenever the President of the United States shall deem it expedient for them to abandon the roaming life, which they now lead, and become herdsmen or agriculturalists, he is hereby authorized to make such reservations for their use as he may deem necessary within the country above described; and they do also hereby agree to remove their camps to such reservations as he may indicate, and to reside and remain therein.

Article 7

The United States, being aware of the inconvenience resulting to the Indians in consequence of the driving away and destruction of game along the routes travelled by white men, and by the formation of agriculture and mining settlements are willing to fairly compensate them for the same; therefore, and in consideration of the preceding stipulations, and of their faithful observance by the said bands, the United States promise and agree to pay to the said bands of the Shoshonee nation parties hereto, annually for the term of twenty years, the sum of five thousand dollars in such articles, including cattle for their herding or other purpses, as the President of the United States shall deem suitable for their wants and condition, either as hunters or herdsmen. And the said bands hereby acknowledge the reception of the said stipulated annuities as a full compensation and equivalent for the loss of game and the rights and privileges hereby conceded.

Article 8

The said bands hereby acknowledge that they have received from said commissoners provisions and clothing amounting to five thousand dollars as presents at the conclusion of this treaty.

Done at Ruby Valley the day and year written above.

James W. Nye
James Duane Doty

Te-moke, his x mark            Po-on-go-sah, his x mark
Mo-ho-a                        Par-a-woat-ze, his x mark
Kirk-weedgwa, his x mark       Ga-ha-dier, his x mark
To-nag, his x mark             Ko-ro-kout-ze, his x mark
To-so-wee-so-op, his x mark    Pon-ge-mah, his x mark
Sow-er-e-gah, his x mark       Buck, his x mark
J.B. Moore, lieutenant-colonel Third Infantry California Volunteers
Jacob T Lockhart, Indian Agent Nevada Territory
Henry Butterfield, Interpreter
Ratified on June 26, 1866

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