People of Red Mountain (Atsa Koodakuh wyh Nuwu, in Paiute) is a committee of traditional knowledge keepers and descendants of the Fort McDermitt Paiute, Shoshone and Bannock Tribes working in coalition with allies to protect our ancestral homelands. We have seen the immense impact that mining projects inflict on the land. The destruction of our cultural resources, wildlife habitat, and the contamination of our ground water are unacceptable consequences of these projects. We oppose the extraction of mineral resources from our homelands because we recognize that there is no benefit great enough to outweigh the cost. While offers made by mining interests can be tempting in a small community with limited economic resources, there is nothing in the material world that can replace our clean drinking water, our first foods, or our reciprocal relationship with the land. We know that the land carries our ancestors as well as generations yet unborn. We know that what we do to the land we do to ourselves.
The Thacker Pass lithium mine.
While our people were suffering through the first wave of the Covid pandemic, a foreign company operating under the name Lithium Nevada began to gain permits to mine the place we call Peehee Mu’huh (a.k.a. Thacker Pass). At this time, Lithium Nevada feigned consultation with our Tribes, they sent letters that we did not respond to as we battled sickness and were overwhelmed with immediate health concerns. Lithium Nevada considered our lack of response to be consent, this gave them an advantage in the permitting process. Despite our legal appeals we have been unable to stop the construction of the mine at Thacker Pass. We maintain that we were not properly consulted as required by Article 19 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).
The mine under construction at Thacker Pass is devastating for our people. Peehee Mu’huh is essential to the survival of our traditions because our traditions are directly tied to the land. Each season is a time to hunt animals and gather plants for food and medicine. The mine endangers this Indigenous knowledge. Not only is Peehee Mu’huh home to our first foods, medicines, and animal relatives, it is also the resting place of many of our ancestors. The name Peehee Mu’huh translates to “rotten moon.” This name was given to the place after a band of our ancestors were massacred there by U.S. Calvary on September 12, 1865. That day, while our hunters were away, the Calvary murdered our elders, women, and children. When our hunters returned, they found our people’s bodies unburied and rotting with their intestines spread across the sagebrush at this pass shaped like a crescent moon. Now, 159 years later, Lithium Nevada is desecrating the land where our ancestors rest.
The Mcdermitt Caldera.
While fighting Lithium Nevada over the Thacker Pass lithium mine, we have come to understand that there are more deposits of lithium on our ancestral homelands. The McDermitt Caldera is said to be home to some of the largest lithium deposits in the world. Thacker Pass is located at the southern tip of the Mcdermitt Caldera, which stretches north beyond Disaster Peak and into the state of Oregon. There are now several claims for lithium exploration throughout the caldera (please see our Maps page). People of Red Mountain strongly oppose any exploration for, or extraction of, lithium from the McDermitt Caldera.
Our tactics, strategies.
People of Red Mountain fights to protect our ancestral homelands through educating our communities, holding ceremonies in honor of our ancestors, participating in legal appeals, and working to sway public opinion by telling our story. Please visit our Events page to learn more about what People of Red Mountain does and how you can get involved.