Calling on Interior Secretary Deb Haaland to Protect Peehee mu’huh / Thacker Pass

Tribal Members Aim to Stop Lithium Nevada Corporation From Digging Up Cultural Sites in Thacker Pass

Fort McDermitt, Nevada – As soon as July 29, 2021, Lithium Nevada Corporation (LNC) plans to begin removing cultural sites, artifacts, and possibly human remains belonging to the ancestors of the Paiute and Western Shoshone peoples for the proposed Thacker Pass open pit lithium mine.

According to a motion for preliminary injunction filed by four environmental organizations in the case Western Watersheds Project v. United States Department of the Interior, LNC intends to begin “mechanical trenching” operations at seven undisclosed sites within the project area, each up to “40 meters” long and “a few meters deep.” The corporation also plans to dig up to 5 feet deep at 20 other undisclosed sites, all pursuant to a new historical and cultural resources plan that has never been subject to meaningful, government-to-government consultation with the affected Tribes or to National Environmental Policy Act analysis.

Daranda Hinkey, Fort McDermitt Paiute and Shoshone tribal member and secretary of a group formed by Fort McDermitt tribal members to stop the mine, Atsa Koodakuh wyh Nuwu (People of Red Mountain) states: “From an indigenous perspective, removing burial sites or anything of that sort is bad medicine. Our tribe believes we risk sickness if we remove or take those things. We simply do not want any burial sites in Thacker Pass or anywhere in the surrounding area to be taken. The ones who passed on were prayed for and therefore should stay in their place, no matter what. We need to respect these places. The people at Lithium Nevada wouldn’t go and dig up their family gravesite because they found lithium there, so why are they trying to do that to ours?”

LNC’s Thacker Pass open pit lithium mine would harm the Fort McDermitt Paiute and Shoshone Tribe, their traditional land, and traditional foods like choke cherry, yapa, ground hog, and mule deer. It would also harm water, air, and wildlife including sage grouse, Lahontan cutthroat trout, pronghorn antelope, and sacred golden eagles.

Thacker Pass is named Peehee mu’huh in Paiute. Peehee mu’huh means “rotten moon” in English and was named so because Paiute ancestors were massacred there while the hunters were away. When the hunters returned, they found their loved ones murdered, unburied, rotting, and with their entrails spread across the sage brush in a part of the Pass shaped like a moon. According to the Paiute, building a lithium mine over this massacre site at Peehee mu’huh would be like building a lithium mine over Pearl Harbor or Arlington National Cemetery.

Land and water protectors have occupied the Protect Thacker Pass camp in the geographical boundaries of LNC’s open pit lithium mine since January 15. Will Falk, attorney and Protect Thacker Pass organizer, says: “Our allies, the People of Red Mountain, do not want to see their ancestors disturbed and their sacred land destroyed. We plan on stopping Lithium Nevada and BLM from digging these cultural sites up.”

On Tuesday, June 15th at 11am PST / 2pm EST, we will be phone banking to Secretary of Interior Deb Haaland (Laguna Pueblo) to ask that she rescind (cancel) the Record of Decision for Thacker Pass, delay the project for consultation, and meet with Atsa Koodakuh wyh Nuwu (People of Red Mountain) to discuss the issues here.

During this phone bank, we will be live streaming a press conference featuring Fort McDermitt tribal members and other concerned people. Please join us by filling out the information on this form and join us to #ProtectPeeheeMu’huh / #ProtectThackerPass!

SIGN UP HERE: https://forms.gle/z4Y2w2dKaw7WMHwE6

Event hosted by People of Red Mountain, One Source Network, Moms Clean Air Force, and Protect Thacker Pass. Please share widely!

Press Release: Opponents of Thacker Pass Lithium Mine Outline Investor Risks

June 2, 2021

Media Inquiries: Contact Max Wilbert, Protect Thacker Pass

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Opponents of Thacker Pass Lithium Mine Outline Investor Risks

OROVADA, NV — Opponents of the planned Thacker Pass lithium mine released an open letter to the CEO of Lithium Americas and investors today.

The letter slams Lithium Americas for violating indigenous rights and planning to bulldoze sacred sites, and notes that projects facing this much opposition may be a risky investment.

“[R]esearch indicates that investors care about human rights concerns and consultation with indigenous communities,” the letter states. The letter also notes that major lithium purchasers and trade groups such as Ford, BMW, and the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance have expressed that “we don’t want to be party” to indigenous tribes’ rights being violated.

Lithium Americas’ $1.3 billion Thacker Pass mining project, planned for northern Nevada, continues to face serious and sustained opposition, including two lawsuits, water rights challenges, a protest camp at the proposed mine location which has been in place for four and a half months, and indigenous communities outraged about impacts on sacred sites and culturally significant resources.

The planned Thacker Pass lithium mine already faces uncertainties for an unproven chemical process to separate lithium from the clay soils. Now, the Trump Administration’s decision to “fast-track” the project — and thereby steamroll opposition — appears to have backfired.

Atsa koodakuh wyh Nuwu (the People of Red Mountain), a group of traditional indigenous people from the Fort McDermitt Paiute Shoshone Tribe, have stated that “Thacker Pass is sacred to our people.” They assert that “Thacker Pass is a spiritually powerful place blessed by the presence of our ancestors, other spirits, and golden eagles – who we consider to be directly connected to the Creator.”

Hundreds of native people and allies have gathered on the site over recent months to conduct ceremony and express opposition to the mine.

According to Atsa koodakuh wyh Nuwu, Thacker Pass is a massacre site. “The name for Thacker Pass in our language is Peehee mu’huh, which in English, translates to ‘rotten moon.’ Peehee mu’huh was named so because our ancestors were massacred there while our hunters were away. When the hunters returned, they found their loved ones murdered, unburied, rotting, and with their entrails spread across the sagebrush in a part of the Pass shaped like a moon.”

They assert that “To build a lithium mine over this massacre site in Peehee mu’huh would be like building a lithium mine over Pearl Harbor or Arlington National Cemetery. We would never desecrate these places and we ask that our sacred sites be afforded the same respect.”

Others oppose the Thacker Pass mine on environmental grounds, or due to water issues. Last week, four environmental organizations which are suing the Bureau of Land Management for illegally permitting the mine filed an injunction seeking to block Lithium Nevada from beginning destructive activities at Thacker Pass.

The injunction notes that Lithium Nevada Corporation (LNC) “intends to begin ground disturbance as soon as June 23, 2021 consisting of initial excavations and digging associated with a newly approved ‘Historic Properties Treatment Plan’ which has never been submitted for public review.”

The anti-mining campaign at Thacker Pass continues to draw national attention and gain strength. On January 15th, environmental activists determined to stop the project launched a protest camp on the proposed site of the mine. Environmental concerns hinge on drawdown of aquifers, toxification of groundwater, possible toxic waste, potential damage to a federally listed threatened species (the Lahontan cutthroat trout), an extinction risk for the King’s River pyrg, destruction of nearly 6,000 acres of increasingly rare old big sagebrush habitat, disruption of pronghorn antelope migratory routes, and harm to golden eagles and greater sage-grouse.

The protest camp has drawn support from the local communities of Orovada and King’s River, which have expressed determined opposition to the mine in a series of hotly contested public meetings.

In February, local rancher Ed Bartell filed a lawsuit against the Bureau of Land Management alleging environmental reviews for the project were “grossly inaccurate, incomplete, and inadequate.”

The letter released today summarizes the strength of the opposition, and concludes that “Lithium Americas does not have a social license to operate this proposed mine… Failure to obtain the support of local communities creates a financial and political risk for mining investment.”

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https://protectthackerpass.org

Press Release: Tribal Members Aim to Stop Lithium Nevada Corporation From Digging Up Cultural Sites in Thacker Pass

Media Inquiries: Contact Will Falk

For Immediate Release

Tribal Members Aim to Stop Lithium Nevada Corporation from Digging Up Cultural Sites in Thacker Pass

Fort McDermitt, Nevada – As soon as June 23, Lithium Nevada Corporation (LNC) plans to begin removing cultural sites, artifacts, and possibly human remains belonging to the ancestors of the Paiute and Western Shoshone peoples for the proposed Thacker Pass open pit lithium mine.

According to a motion for preliminary injunction filed by four environmental organizations in the case Western Watersheds Project v. United States Department of the Interior, LNC intends to begin “mechanical trenching” operations at seven undisclosed sites within the project area, each up to “40 meters” long and “a few meters deep.” The corporation also plans to dig up to 5 feet deep at 20 other undisclosed sites, all pursuant to a new historical and cultural resources plan that has never been subject to meaningful, government-to-government consultation with the affected Tribes or to National Environmental Policy Act analysis.

Daranda Hinkey, Fort McDermitt Paiute and Shoshone tribal member and secretary of a group formed by Fort McDermitt tribal members to stop the mine, Atsa Koodakuh wyh Nuwu (People of Red Mountain) states: “From an indigenous perspective, removing burial sites or anything of that sort is bad medicine. Our tribe believes we risk sickness if we remove or take those things. We simply do not want any burial sites in Thacker Pass or anywhere in the surrounding area to be taken. The ones who passed on were prayed for and therefore should stay in their place, no matter what. We need to respect these places. The people at Lithium Nevada wouldn’t go and dig up their family gravesite because they found lithium there, so why are they trying to do that to ours?”

LNC’s Thacker Pass open pit lithium mine would harm the Fort McDermitt Paiute and Shoshone Tribe, their traditional land, and traditional foods like choke cherry, yapa, ground hog, and mule deer. It would also harm water, air, and wildlife such as sage grouse, Lahontan cutthroat trout, pronghorn antelope, and sacred golden eagles.

Thacker Pass is named Peehee mu’huh in Paiute. Peehee mu’huh means “rotten moon” in English and was named so because Paiute ancestors were massacred there while the hunters were away. When the hunters returned, they found their loved ones murdered, unburied, rotting, and with their entrails spread across the sage brush in a part of the Pass shaped like a moon. According to the Paiute, building a lithium mine over this massacre site at Peehee mu’huh would be like building a lithium mine over Pearl Harbor or Arlington National Cemetery.

Land and water protectors have occupied the Protect Thacker Pass camp in the geographical boundaries of LNC’s open pit lithium mine since January 15. Will Falk, attorney and Protect Thacker Pass organizer, says: “Our allies, the People of Red Mountain, do not want to see their ancestors disturbed and their sacred land destroyed. We plan on stopping Lithium Nevada and BLM from digging these cultural sites up.”