SALT LAKE CITY — Federal authorities took steps Wednesday to stop a group called Uinta Valley Shoshone Tribe from selling hunting and fishing licenses on Ute tribal lands.
The U.S. Attorney's Office in Salt Lake City filed a civil complaint and seeks an injunction to prevent the tribe from issuing permits purportedly giving people the right to hunt and fish on the Uintah-Ouray Reservation. The Uinta Valley Shoshone are not a federally recognized tribe and have no legal authority over the land, according to the government.
According to the complaint, Ute Fish and Wildlife and the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources received information in September 2016 that the Shoshone were selling hunting and fishing licenses for their purported members for use on the Ute reservation. Some of the permits were used to kill deer and elk.
The Shoshone put up "No Trespass" signs on the Ute lands and told those who bought the $25 licenses that the lands actually belong to the Uinta Valley Shoshone Tribe and no entity can prevent permit holders from hunting or fishing on those lands, according to the indictment.
The sale of licenses apparently is part of the Shoshone tribe's effort to lay claim to Uintah-Ouray Reservation.
Shoshone leaders told investigators their tribe is federally recognized and that its members remain the true heir to Ute reservation lands in eastern Utah. The band is said to have about 1,865 members.Comment on this story
"We’ve got oil wells and everything else out here that we’ve got to take control of, too, and the leases and things, so, if they’re griping about the hunting and fishing, wait till we get into the gas, oil and minerals. But if we have to resolve it, this is where we need to resolve it, is in this small a spot. Because whatever happens here is going to apply to everything else. … It’s all political, I’m telling you,” Uinta Valley Shoshone Tribe chairwoman Dora Van told investigators, according to court documents.
In addition to Van, the complaint names Shoshone director Ramona Harris and wildlife director Leo LeBaron as defendants.
The government wants a federal judge to declare the tribe is committing wire fraud by selling the hunting and fishing licenses. A hearing on its motion for a temporary restraining order is scheduled for Oct. 24.