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Corbin holding a feather

Sand dunes

Corbin pointing across a landscape

Rocky landscape and sky

Corbin holding a feather

Sand dunes

Corbin pointing across a landscape

Rocky landscape and sky

Corbin holding a feather

Sand dunes

Corbin pointing across a landscape

Rocky landscape and sky

Corbin holding a feather

Sand dunes

Corbin Harney


Read and listen to “The Water Song” story

Biography: The Bear Goes Hungry

When Corbin Harney was a boy, he would run away from the missionary school where he was forced to sit and listen to a language he did not speak or understand. The children were punished for talking to each other in their own native tongue. Having lost his parents when he was a baby, he came to live with his uncle who gave him the choice of staying in school or going off into the mountains to learn to survive on his own. Corbin took two horses and went into the hills of Idaho to live off the land his people had called home for centuries.

Today, Corbin Harney is a spiritual leader, healer and internationally known indigenous rights and anti-nuclear weapons activist. He has performed his songs at the United Nations and at demonstrations from The Nevada Test Site to the Russian Nuclear Bombing Range in Khazakstan. He has been the featured speaker at anti-nuclear conferences around the world and has led thousands past the front gates of the Nevada Test Site on his traditional lands in mass acts of non-violent resistance to stop the testing and proliferation of nuclear weapons.

In 1994, Corbin Harney founded the Shundahai Network (Shundahai is the Newe word for “peace and harmony with all creation”) to work with people and organizations to respond to pressing environmental, nuclear and Native issues and to ensure that Native voices are heard and heeded in the movement to shape national and international policy. (Visit the Shundahai Network at http://www.shundahai.org)

At 83 years old, you can find Corbin living what he calls “the Nature Way,” swinging a sledge hammer while directing the construction at Poo Ha Bah, his traditional healing center outside of Death Valley, California. “The nature put all the living things here for us to take care of, not destroy them, but work with them so that we may live with them for many more years.” Every morning he rises with the sun and offers his songs as a prayer. Heated water from the depths of the earth emerges at Poo Ha Bah, a place where Native Americans and others come to bathe, heal and rest.

Update from Corbin Harney’s family:
Corbin Harney, spiritual leader of the Western Shoshone Nation crossed over at 11:00 a.m. this morning in a house on a sacred mountain near Santa Rosa, CA (Turtle Island.) Before he passed, he said to remember: "We are one people. We cannot separate ourselves now. There are many good things to be done for our people and for the world. It is important to let things be good. And it is important to teach the younger generation so that things are not lost." Corbin died of cancer on July 10, 2007.



Tribe: Western Shoshone (The Newe)
Western Shoshone Ancestral Lands

The People’s Land
The Western Shoshone call themselves Newe, “The People,” and they refer to their ancestral lands as Newe Sogobia, “The People’s Land.” After living on these lands for thousands of years, the Newe have spent the last 400 defending them from invasion and environmental destruction. Their struggle today is a warning for us all.

In the beginning of time, Ah-peh, “Creator,” created the Newe and they lived according to Ah-peh’s instructions: to exist in harmony with Mother Earth and all her creatures. The Newe’s ancestral homelands span across four states—Nevada, Utah, Idaho and California—and prior to invasion by the Spanish and later the United States, they traversed the Great Basin area along extensive trade routes. During the summer, they traveled widely to hunt and gather, but spent the dry winters in smaller clan groups, centered around various hot springs. In the fall and spring, representatives from all the clan groups would gather for ceremonies and decision-making.

A Treaty of Peace and Friendship
After nearly 200 years of defending their territories from European and United States invasion, in 1863 the Newe signed the Treaty of Ruby Valley, a “Treaty of Peace and Friendship.” The treaty allowed the Newe dominion over their ancestral lands, and in return U.S. citizens were allowed to pass through these territories unharmed. But not long after the treaty was signed, settlers began to occupy lands belonging to the Newe, and the U.S. Government refused to enforce the treaty. Many of the Newe currently live on different reservations and rancherias in California and Nevada, including the Timbisha Shoshone, the Bishop Shoshone, the Te-Moak Tribe, the Western Shoshone Reservation at Duck Valley, the South Fork, Ruby Valley, and Odgers Ranch Reservations, and the Battle Mountain, Elko, Wells, and Ely Colonies.

A National Sacrifice Area
Today, the U.S. government occupies much of the Newe Segobia, using it as a domestic nuclear war zone. The Nevada Test Site was illegally seized from the tribe in the 1940s to use for nuclear weapons testing and dumping of highly radioactive nuclear waste. Releases of radiation from the detonation of over 1000 nuclear weapons above and below the ground have resulted in cancer clusters and contamination in the communities downwind of the site—and beyond. Newe homelands have been turned into a National Sacrifice Area, or permanently poisoned lands.

The latest threat to the Newe and thousands of communities across the country is the planned nuclear waste dump at Yucca Mountain located within the Nevada Test Site. The site will accept over 75,000 tons of fuel rods and other high-level waste across roads and rails from 39 states and place it in a giant hole in the earth found to be seismically unstable and in contact with ground water. Plutonium, the most deadly man-made substance on the earth, lasts for 250,000 years and represents an unprecedented burden on the next 12,000 generations.



“The Water Song”
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My name’s Corbin Harney. I was born in Idaho, raised in Idaho and Nevada both. Roamed the country.

My people always have said to me from the beginning of my life, as I remember, to do, to take care of what’s out here, what’s out there on the land. All those things, we have to have ceremonies for. Those are the reasons why I’ve been trying to teach my people, not only my people, but the people that survive on all this land. To teach them we have to really start talking to the nature. Nature Way of life is the only way we are going to survive here.

“Naraborochi”, that’s in my words, that’s water. Water is something that’s really, we have to appreciate. Those are the reasons why we have to sing about those things, cause if it wasn’t for water, there would be no life on this earth. We have to sing to ‘em, sing to the life of the water, the spirit of the water and so forth. So the water can be happier, the water can continue to flow. We have to make that water spirit at least as happy as can be.

(Song plays in Shoshone)
I’m asking the water to continue to flow over the land to give water to all the living things.

That’s singing about all the living things on this—that all we are is trickling over our mother earth. “Banoso”, in my lango, that’s our mother. Our mother is the one that we’re circling on, everything on this earth. That’s what it’s about, “wanonoawatee”, “wanososhy”, we all are rotating with our mother. So that’s what it is. So everything appreciates each other, we’re supposed to. Appreciating each other, working together, doing things together, living on this mother earth together. We have to appreciate. It’s really important.

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