Corbin Harney, Western Shoshone leader, 87

Corbin Harney, a spiritual leader of the Western Shoshone nation and internationally-renowned anti-nuclear activist, died near Santa Rosa, Calif., on July 10, of complications from cancer.

Harney was born March 24, 1920, in Little Valley, Idaho, and lived much of his life in Nevada. He was a leader of the anti-nuclear movement which year after year has drawn thousands of protesters to Peace Camp, outside the Department of Energy’s Nevada Test Site. In 1994 he founded the Shundahai Network to respond to spiritual and environmental concerns over nuclear issues by building alliances with indigenous, environmental, peace and human rights communities.

“Corbin was a World War II veteran and was known around the world for his activism against radioactivity and nuclear weapons,” said Robert Hager, Reno-based attorney for the Western Shoshone nation.

Harney “was always steadfast in trying to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons and guard the people against the threats and hazards that nuclear technology poses,” said Ian Zabarte, a leader of the Western Shoshone National Council.

He was also a leader in the broad movement to defeat government plans to create a repository for highly radioactive waste near the test site, at Yucca Mountain, 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas. Though Congress approved the project in 2002 over the veto of then-Republican Gov. Kenny Guinn, the Department of Energy has not yet submitted a license application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for the dump.

The Shoshone people “were put here by the creator as a native people to take care of this land and all the life on it,” Harney said in a statement during a 1998 protest at the test site. “The government has stolen this land from us, and now it is very contaminated. For 50 years they have kept us out with fences and guards.”

Harney received many national and international awards, including the international Nuclear-Free Future Award, and spoke before the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. He was the author of two books: “The Way It Is: One Water, One Air, One Earth,” and “The Nature Way,” which will be released soon.

Corbin Harney is survived by his daughter, Reynaulda Taylor, two granddaughters, four grandsons, seven great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren.