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As Court Ruling Nears, Thacker Pass Sacred Sites Already Being Damaged
Tribal Chairman: “It’s Our Responsibility to Protect Sacred Sites”
RENO, NV — The Thacker Pass Lithium Mine in northern Nevada is headed back to Federal Court on January 5th as the lawsuits against the project near completion, but project opponents are raising the alarm that Lithium Nevada Corporation has already begun work on the proposed mine.
Lithium Nevada’s workers at Thacker Pass have begun digging test pits, bore holes, dumping gravel, building fencing, & installing security cameras where Native Americans often conduct ceremonies. Lithium Nevada also conducted “bulk sampling” earlier this year, & may be planning to dig dozens of new test pits across Thacker Pass. They’re claiming this work is legal under previous permits issued over a decade ago. But Tribes & mine opponents, including the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony & Summit Lake Paiute Tribe, disagree.
They point to language in the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Thacker Pass Lithium Mine that says “authorization of [the mine] will terminate the [earlier permits].” The Federal permit for Thacker Pass was approved on January 15th, 2021.
Will Falk, attorney for the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony, explains: “Lithium Nevada told the government & the American public that it would terminate the older permits upon BLM's approval of the Thacker Pass Project. Now they are going back on their word, it appears they are lying to get a headstart on building the Thacker Pass mine, & the BLM is allowing them to get away with it.”
Thacker Pass, known as Peehee Mu’huh in Paiute, is a sacred site to regional tribes whose ancestors lived in the area for thous&s of years, & were massacred there on at least two occasions.
Michon Eben, Tribal Historic Preservation Officer at Reno-Sparks Indian Colony, says the site is incredibly important to Native American history. “Peehee Mu’huh is a sacred place where our ancestors lived & died. We still go there to pray, gather food & medicine, hunt, & teach our youth about the history of our people.” Eben & the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony are currently hosting an exhibit on the impacts of mining on Native people of Nevada.
Tribal members have stated in court filings that, because of the history of battles & massacres on the site, Thacker Pass is as significant to their culture as a site like Pearl Harbor is to American history. Arlan Melendez, Chairman of the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony, underst&s the importance of battle & massacre sites as both a Native American & as a U.S. Marine Corps veteran.
“As tribal leaders, it’s our responsibility to protect & honor our sacred places,” says Melendez. “Throughout US history, tribes have always been set up to lose in the US legal system against BLM. This Lithium Mine st&s in the way of our roots & it’s violating the religious freedoms of our elders, our people.”
Falk, the Tribal attorney, says that Lithium Nevada’s construction activities at Thacker Pass are also violating tribal consultation rights.
“The Reno-Sparks Indian Colony & Summit Lake Paiute Tribe are still engaged in consultation with the BLM about the September 12, 1865 massacre site, a site that will be completely destroyed by Lithium Nevada’s mine if this project is built,” Falk says. “It’s hard to believe a government agency is consulting in good faith when they are already allowing the site to be harmed.”
Shelley Harjo, a tribal member from the Fort McDermitt Shoshone Paiute Tribe & an employee of the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony, has called the planned destruction of Thacker Pass “the biggest desecration & rape of a known Native American massacre site in our area.”
The upcoming January 5th hearing in Reno’s Federal Courthouse will be the final oral argument in the ongoing lawsuits against the Thacker Pass mine. Mine opponents are planning a march & rally outside. Plaintiffs, including the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony, Burns Paiute Tribe, four environmental organizations, & local rancher Edward Bartell, have alleged numerous violations of the law, & Judge Mir&a Du is expected to issue her opinion in the case within days or weeks of the January 5th hearing.
“No matter what happens in court on January 5th, Thacker Pass is being destroyed right now & that threat will be ongoing,” says Max Wilbert, co-founder of Protect Thacker Pass. “We have to stop that.”
Lithium Nevada claims that its lithium mine will be essential to producing batteries for combating global warming, & the Biden administration has previously indicated some support for Thacker Pass. Opponents of the project have called this “greenwashing,” arguing that the project would harm important wildlife habitat & create significant pollution. They say that electric cars are still harmful to the planet.
#ProtectThackerPass #ProtectPeeheeMuhuh #lithium #climate #greenwashing #BrightGreenLies
The National Turtle Lodge Council of Elders and Knowledge Keepers honoured Elder Dr. Dave Courchene, Jr. and his spiritual names, Nitamabit (The Original Way and One who Sits in Front) and Nii Gaani Aki Inini (Leading Earth Man) yesterday, in recognition of his leadership and role identified by his names, his service to the People and Mother Earth, and his work in fulfillment of the dream and vision of the Turtle Lodge to awaken, nurture and strengthen the spirit in all Peoples.
Enjoy a bird’s-eye view of thousands of acres of jaguar habitat in southern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico. In 2014 the Center helped secure protections for this critical habitat.
Jason Box, an American living in Copenhagen, is a Professor in Glaciology and Climate at the Geologic Survey of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS). Jason is a contributing author to the most recent three Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) scientific assessment reports and is the lead author on recent Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program (AMAP) reports. Jason joined two sessions hosted by C2G on October 10th at the 2019 Arctic Circle Assembly, where scientists, policy experts, indigenous activists, youth representatives, and other civil society representatives explored some of the toughest questions facing decision-makers today as they contemplate the future of the Arctic.
A quick climate change video essay that looks at why oil and gas pipelines like the Keystone XL expansion and the Dakota Access Pipeline are so contentious. I specifically look at how building new pipelines will just lock us into a system reliant on fossil fuels for decades to come.
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2. Keystone XL timeline.
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