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Nov 24, 21

The Fight to Save Thacker Pass and Stop Evictions in the Winnemucca Indian Colony

On this episode of the It’s Going Down podcast, we spoke with members of the Sugarbush Crew, who are fighting to save Peehee Muh’ha, also known as Thacker Pass in so-called Nevada, from the construction of a massive lithium mine.

According to Indian Country Today:

Two tribes that joined a legal battle over plans to build a mine at the largest known U.S. deposit of lithium urged a judge Thursday to temporarily ban digging for an archaeological survey that they say would desecrate sacred tribal lands in Nevada near the Oregon line.

The Reno-Sparks Indian Colony and Atsa Koodakuh Wyh Nuwu/People of Red Mountain are intervening in a lawsuit that four conservation groups have filed against Lithium Nevada Corp. The tribes say their ancestors were massacred in the late 1800s at the proposed Thacker Pass site that would mine lithium, a key component in electric vehicle batteries. Demand for the mineral is expected to triple over the next five years.

The tribes say the Bureau of Land Management’s approval of the project in December during the final weeks of the Trump administration violates the National Historic Preservation Act because they haven’t been consulted about potential efforts to mitigate damage to their sacred lands.

Building a mine “where our ancestors were massacred — where our ancestors’ bones, blood and flesh form a part of the soil — would be like building a lithium mine over Pearl Harbor, Arlington National Cemetery or the Gettysburg Battlefield,” according to an affidavit that lawyers for the tribes filed Thursday in federal court in Reno with a request to temporarily block the digging.

The Paiutes call Thacker Pass “Pee hee mu’huh,” which means “rotten moon.” Tribal leaders with the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony describe in oral histories how Paiute hunters returned home to find the “elders, women, and children murdered, unburied and rotting with their intestines spread across the sagebrush in this pass shaped like a crescent moon.”

The tribes’ request comes after U.S. District Judge Miranda Du rejected a motion last week from conservationists who sought to block the digging based on claims that it would destroy critical habitat for the sage grouse, an imperiled ground-dwelling bird.

Inside Climate News also wrote:

Troubles around the Thacker Pass mine echo global conflicts over mineral extraction for renewable energy that are almost certain to grow with the world’s transition to clean energy and its rapid electrification of the transportation sector in particular. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a cobalt rush has brought human rights violations, child labor and dangerously tunnel-riddled neighborhoods. In Chile, lithium mining is stressing the water Indigenous peoples and native wildlife depend on in the Atacama desert. And in the once-pristine Arctic surrounding Norilsk, Russia, nickel production has turned rivers red, killed vast forests and darkened skies with the worst sulfur dioxide pollution in the world.

During our discussion with the Surgarbush Crew, we talk about why the group is fighting construction of the mine, the protest encampments which have been set up to block mine construction, and how they are pushing back against several recent evictions of elders living on the nearby Winnemucca Indian Colony. At one point during our conversation, we are also joined by two elders, who share their anger and thoughts on attempts to remove them from their homes on the colony to make way for housing for miners.

Land defenders are currently calling for supporters to donate, bring supplies and building skills out to the land, and stand in solidarity with elders resisting eviction at the Winnemucca Indian Colony. For more information and ways to donate, follow Sugarbush Crew.

Donate to the Frontlines:

Fundraiser by Winnemucca Defense Fund

Winnemucca Elders Fund

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Music: Aztlan Underground

Note: Sugarbush Crew is not associated with Deep Green Resistance (DGR).

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