Lithium America’s Tokenism of the Worst Kind
An excerpt from an article by Shelley Harjo originally posted in the Nevada Current.
Lithium Nevada’s attempts to portray my tribal council as representing all Native Americans is tokenism of the worst kind. It is important for non-Natives to understand reservations and tribal councils are purely an invention of the American government. Reservations were created to move Native Americans off of the most economically desirable lands as more and more settlers arrived. Tribal councils were created by the American government in an attempt to manufacture legitimacy for the American government’s systematic theft of Native land. Prior to the 1860s, there was no such thing as the Fort McDermitt Paiute and Shoshone Tribe or the Fort McDermitt reservation – natives at that time had no borders.
Do not be fooled by Lithium Nevada’s publicity tactics to date. My reservation is impoverished and desperate for economic opportunities. Many tribal members are forced to choose to work at the mines because they have no other options. Additionally, many leave the reservation to find their own economic permanency for their families.
Therefore, just because the Fort McDermitt tribe is seeking economic opportunities from Lithium Nevada does not mean most Native Americans support the Thacker Pass desecration. It doesn’t even mean most Fort McDermitt tribal members support it. All it means is the current Fort McDermitt tribal council is willing to, perhaps unknowingly, sacrifice the health of the land for a few temporary jobs for a few tribal members.