June 7, 2016

Battle Mountain Reservation

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Battle Mountain Reservation is one of six reservations of the Te-Moak Tribe of Western Shoshone Indians of Nevada. It is home to the Battle Mountain Band of Te-Moak Shoshone Indians.

Land Area:

The Battle Mountain Reservation is located on the west side of the city limits of the town of Battle Mountain, Nevada. It consists of two separate parcels of land totaling 683.3 acres. The original 677.05-acre reservation was established by Executive Order on June 18, 1917, for Shoshones living near Winnemucca and Battle Mountain. By an Act of Congress on August 21, 1967, an additional 6.25 acres were added to colony lands.

Tribal Affiliation:

Te-Moak Tribe of Western Shoshone Indians of Nevada, Battle Mountain Band. Traditionally, they are the Tonomudza band of Newe (Shoshone).

The Battle Mountain Colony is a member of the Te-Moak Tribe of Western Shoshone Indians, with tribal headquarters in Elko, Nevada. The Te-Moak Tribal Council has total jurisdiction over all tribal lands, but the colonies retain sovereignty over all their other affairs. The Battle Mountain Colony has its own tribal council, consisting of a chairman, vice-chairman, and five council members. Each serve a three-year term of office.

The Colony is organized under the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934, with its charter ratified on December 12, 1938, and its constitution and by-laws sanctioned on August 26, 1982.

Population:

Current reservation population is 165 and total tribal enrollment is 516.

Reservation Communities:

The Battle Mountain Colony is located in Lander County, about a mile west of the town of Battle Mountain, in central Nevada. Battle Mountain is located along Interstate 80, approximately halfway between Reno, Nevada, and Salt Lake City, Utah, and is the starting point of Nevada State Route 305 which heads southward to Austin, Nevada.

Reservation History:

The Battle Mountain Colony is one of four separate colonies that comprise the Te-Moak Tribe of Western Shoshone Indians. The Battle Mountain region was the boundary area between the Newe (the ancestors of the Shoshone) and the Northern Paiutes; it was known to the Newe as “Tonomudza.” Several Newe bands lived in the area, which was a focal point for rabbit and antelope drives. An influx of whites soon claimed the fertile regions along the Humboldt and its tributaries.

The area was noted by fur trappers in the 1820s and 30s. At that time, the Battle Mountain area was home to the Northern Paiute and Shoshone peoples.

It served as a waypoint for westward-bound travel on the Emigrant Trail along the Humboldt River by 1845. According to local legends the name stems from confrontations between the local Indians and early settlers during the 1850s and 60s.

When copper ore was discovered in 1866 and mining began, the Central Pacific Railroad started a station to support the mining activity. In 1870 the railroad moved the Argenta station to Battle Mountain and established a townsite to serve the Battle Mountain copper and gold mining district. After the 1880’s the Shoshone continued to live on the outskirts of the town, and some found work at nearby ranches.

In 1917, the colony received official recognition for their lands. In the 1930’s the Colony began building residential homes and a community development project with the purchase and renovation of houses from the Getchell Mine near Winnemucca, which were relocated to the reservation. In addition, the Community Building was renovated and a playground, park, and picnic grounds were added.

The Copper Canyon Mine operated from 1917 until 1955. The Tomboy-Minnie ore deposits were developed after the depletion of the West ore body, which was developed after the depletion of the East ore body. Open-pit mining started in 1967. Placer gold was discovered in 1912. Mining switched from the copper-gold-silver ores to gold-silver ores in 1979. The Fortitude gold-silver skarn body was discovered in 1981. The Surprise gold deposit was discovered in 1986.

In the early 1970’s, with funds from the interstate highway right-of-way leases, about 17 homes were purchased by the colony from the Getchell Mines (no longer operating) and relocated to colony lands. Using other federal program monies, the Te-Moak Housing Authority has assisted tribal members with obtaining additional housing.

In Recent News:

In a 1979 ruling, the Nevada Supreme Court moved the Lander County seat to Battle Mountain.

Chiefs Frank Temoke and Frank Brady refused the government’s offer of a payoff under the 1863 Treaty of Ruby Valley at Battle Mountain on December 11, 1992.

A 2008 earthquake of 6.3 magnitude that hit northeastern Nevada severely damaged one of the city’s oldest historical buildings, the Lemaire Building, which was condemned.

Battle Mountain hosts an annual bike race on a long, straight, flat stretch of Highway 305 just outside town. The event draws teams from all over the world as they attempt to build and pedal the fastest bicycles on earth. The event is known as the “World Human Powered Speed Challenge.” On September 14, 2013, Sebastiaan Bowier from the Netherlands established himself as “the fastest man alive” by pedaling a streamlined bicycle at 83.13 mph (133.78 km/h) over a 200-meter distance. Bowier’s run eclipsed the prior record of 82.8 mph (133.3 km/h) set on September 18, 2009 by Sam Whittingham. Whittingham’s record run in 2009 won the .decimach prize for going one tenth the speed of sound (with adjustments for slope and elevation).

In December 2001, the Washington Post published an article by Gene Weingarten titled “Why Not The Worst?” that popularly titled Battle Mountain as the “Armpit of America.” The town used the unofficial title as a publicity opportunity, and hosted an annual “Armpit Festival” from 2002-2005, which was sponsored by Old Spice and awarded deodorant-themed prizes to participants.

A meteorite fall was reported on August 22, 2012 on Battle Mountain. Twenty-three fragments with a mass of 2.9 kg had been collected by 3 Oct 2012.

Economy Today:

Plans are underway for the construction of a truck stop. The Battle Mountain Colony tribal government employs about 20 people. The main economic source for the reservation is the smokeshop/convenience store. It employs about six people. A newley formed tribal business, the Battle Mountain Filter Service Company, cleans filters for the nearby mines. It has three full-time employees. 

Topography and Climate:

Battle Mountain is located at the confluence of two rivers, the Humboldt and the Reese. The town is in the Humboldt valley between the Shoshone Range to the southeast, the Battle Mountains to the southwest and the Sheep Creek Range across the Humboldt to the north.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the community has a total area of 3.6 square miles (9.2 km2), all of it land. The elevation of Battle Mountain is 4,511 ft (1,375 m).

Battle Mountain’s climate is semi-arid, receiving just enough precipitation to avoid arid classification. The monthly daily average temperature ranges from 30.9 °F (−0.6 °C) in January to 75.5 °F (24.2 °C) in July. There are 14 days of 100 °F (38 °C)+ highs, 74 days of 90 °F (32 °C)+ highs, 11 days where the high does not rise above freezing, and 7 nights of sub-0 °F (−18 °C) lows annually. The average window for freezing temperatures is September 16 to May 29. The average seasonal snowfall of 20 in (51 cm) on average occurs from November 25 to April 2, the majority of it occurring in December and January. With a period of record only dating back to 1944, extremes range from −39 °F (−39 °C) on December 22, 1990, up to 112 °F (44 °C) on July 12, 2002.

Notable residents 

Mary Dann and Carrie Dann, (Crescent Valley) Western Shoshone activists for cultural and spiritual rights and land rights.

Famous Shoshone

American Indian Reservations A to C
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