An excerpt from Volume 1 of our newsletter Running on Sagebrush Time
An excerpt from an article originally posted by NBC News.
Opponents of the mine draw on both oral and recorded history to establish its spiritual importance to the Shoshone and Paiute people. According to Gary McKinney, tribal oral history says soldiers massacred around 30 Paiute tribal members at Thacker Pass in 1865.
A contemporary newspaper account and a 1929 book, both cited in court filings, described an early-morning raid on a Paiute camp in September 1865 by the 1st Nevada Cavalry Battalion that killed women and children. The article called it an “Indian fight,” and said it left at least 31 Indians “permanently friendly,” meaning dead, and said that tally was probably low.
McKinney says that tribal members go to Thacker Pass to gather roots, medicinal herbs and berries for traditional ceremonies and rituals. Like many members of his tribe, he believes the valley, also known to Paiutes as Rotten Moon, is a “final resting place” for his ancestors.
Members of other Indigenous groups far from Thacker Pass have expressed support for McKinney and the opponents of the mine. To raise awareness, activists from around the U.S. ran, biked, rode horses and drove 2,600 miles from Nevada to New York.
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.
Self-sufficient camping invited on Saturday-Sunday. Wear teal. Sober event.
Where: Peehee Mu’huh (Thacker Pass)
When: Sunday, September 11, 11AM-2PM
Join us at Peehee Mu’huh for updates, camping, food, and visiting! Come spend the day or the weekend with us.
If you are camping, please be self sufficient. Event will take place on Saturday from 12-3pm. Lunch will be provided on Saturday at 12:30pm. Please come to Peehee Mu’huh in a good way. Stand in solidarity to protect sacred land and resources from being destroyed by Lithium Nevada.
Where: Peehee Mu’huh (Thacker Pass)
When: Saturday, April 30, 12-3PM
The 18,000-acre Thacker Pass mine would reach into ancestral lands of the Fort McDermitt Paiute and Shoshone Tribe, the Burns Paiute Tribe, Reno Sparks Indian Colony and the Shoshone-Paiute Tribes of Duck Valley Indian Reservation.
To the Paiute people, however, it’s Peehee mu’huh, or rotten moon, for its crescent shape and ugly history. It’s one of the few remaining places where tribal citizens can still gather traditional foods such as chokecherries and wild potatoes, and medicines such as toza root, or honor their ancestors at the site where 31 Paiute people were massacred by government soldiers in 1865.
Several of the tribes, along with environmental groups and others, say the mine would wreck their land, resources and culture, depleting or poisoning water supplies, destroying sacred sites, degrading wildlife habitat and leaving behind hazardous waste.
Read the rest of the article here at Indian Country Today.
“We deeply oppose President Biden’s executive order for the Defense Production Act for precious minerals,” said Fort McDermitt Paiute and Shoshone tribal member Day Hinkey, who is part of the group Atsa Koodakuh wyh Nuwu, or the People of Red Mountain. “I believe this is gonna be the second coming of environmental destruction. The first we’re in now is the climate crisis from the fossil fuel industry, and I believe this next one will be lithium mining.”
“Water is life. That’s not just a slogan, it’s what we all need to survive.”
Hinkey, who raised concerns about the destruction of cultural lands and elimination of Indigenous history, added that “water is life. That’s not just a slogan, it’s what we all need to survive. In this climate right now, we are suffering in drought, and everyone needs water. Lithium is going to contaminate a ton of water. We need this water to survive for drinking water and our foods.”
Read the full article here at Common Dreams
Some will tell you that we must mine our way out of the climate crisis. They will tell you that places like Thacker Pass must be sacrificed. But those of us who trace our ancestry to this place, and still rely on its resources for our way of life, reject that idea. Yes, we must act to address the urgent challenge of climate change, for ours and future generations. But we must do so without replacing dirty oil with dirty mining that desecrates the cultural resources and sacred sites of Indigenous peoples.
Lithium mining at Thacker Pass will take advantage of already impacted tribal communities and strip them of their cultural history. Do not tell us that this is the cost of progress. We are not prepared to sacrifice our burial grounds, or the places where we still hunt, fish and gather food.
Read the rest here at the Reno-Gazette Journal
An interview with Daranda Hinkey about the Lithium Americas proposed Thacker Pass lithium mine. She discusses how the legal system isn’t designed to protect tribal people and how mining is a growing threat.