Local indigenous peoples and their environmentalist supporters have rallied outside the federal courthouse in Reno, Nev., as they await a decision on their request for an injunction to stop the Thacker Pass Lithium Mine Project, set to be developed on public lands within the ancestral territory of the Paiute and Shoshone. Opponents have also established a protest camp near the mine site. If the injunction is denied, Lithium Nevada, a subsidiary of Canada-based Lithium Americas, will be able to move ahead with an archaeological survey in preparation for breaking ground on the mine.
The request for the injunction was filed by the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony, the Burns Paiute Tribe and a group of Paiute and Shoshone residents from the Fort McDermitt, Pyramid Lakeand Duck Valley reservations calling themselves Atsa koodakuh wyh Nuwu, or People of Red Mountain. They charge that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) failed to properly consult with impacted indigenous peoples before approving the project.
Thacker Pass is named Peehee mu’huh, or Rotten Moon, in Paiute, and litigants assert it was the site of a massacre of Paiute people in the 19th century. In June, the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony sent a letter to the BLM Winnemucca District Office calling on the agency to halt construction of the mine “until meaningful government-to-government consultation with all of the tribes that are connected to Thacker Pass has concluded.” The letter states: “To disturb this massacre site…would be like disturbing Pearl Harbor or Arlington National Cemetery. Destroying these sites destroys our history.”
The BLM approved the Thacker Pass project in January, just five days before the end of Donald Trump’s presidency. It was one of several projects fast-tracked in the final days of the administration to advance energy and mining projects on public lands, including an Arizona copper mine set to be built on sacred Apache land. (Nevada Current, Reno News & Review, This Is Reno, Nevada Indpendent, Earth Island Journal, First Voices Indigenous Radio)
See our last post on the global lithium wars.
Photo: Protect Thacker Pass