Western Shoshone Protest Continues at Federal Court

This was originally posted by Brenda Norrell at http://bsnorrell.blogspot.com/

Western Shoshone Protest Continues at Federal Court

Support Religious Freedom for the Western Shoshone
Stop Barrick Gold from Destruction of the Sacred Mt. Tenabo
Demonstration and Trial to Protect Native Religions continues
Jan. 21 8:00 – 9:00 AM
Thompson Federal Building and Courthouse
(at Liberty and S. Virgin St. – Reno)

Stay for the Injunctive Hearing in the courthouse

From the Western Shoshone
Photo of Wednesday morning protest by Carl Bad Bear Sampson

The second day of a new President will see the second day of the Western Shoshone asserting their right to freely practice their religion. Roger Flynn of the Western Mining Action Project, council for the Western Shoshone, will be arguing for the second day in US Court to prevent further destruction of sacred Mt. Tenabo at the hands of Barrick Gold Corporation. Just two months ago, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management approved the construction of a massive open pit cyanide heap leach gold mine on the face of well-known spiritual area, Mt. Tenabo. Western Shoshone communities, the Western Shoshone Defense Project and Great Basin Resource Watch are seeking an injunction to stop mining activities at Mt. Tenabo before its special spiritual energy is obliterated.

The court heard compelling testimony from Western Shoshone as to the special significance of Mt. Tenabo in their religious practice, and how the proposed mine would deny this practice. Witnesses elaborated on the special spiritual power of Mt. Tenabo and its healing waters, which would be lost if this mine goes forward. Lawyers with Barrick Gold attempted in cross-examination to undermine the special significance of Mt. Tenabo, and will be presenting witnesses on January 21st. The trial is expected to continue through Thursday January 22nd.

Western Shoshone will again lead a peaceful and respectful demonstration in front of the Federal Building just prior to the hearing from 8:00 AM to 8:45 AM with native drumming, song, and prayer. A similar demonstration is anticipated for Thursday morning as well – for as many days as the hearing is in play.

“Denabo (correct spelling) has significance for Western Shoshone, it means the writing on the rock walls of the mountain (White Cliffs) put there by our Creator. We go to pray to our Creator to give us strength to keep us going. How can we pray to our creator when the place in being blown up?” – Joyce McDade, Western Shoshone Grandmother

Barrick Gold Corporation is the world’s largest gold company and operates mainly on Indigenous lands for the extraction of gold. This company has refused to accept its social responsibility to protect Indigenous peoples’ land, sacred areas, water, and air pollution.

This destruction of Indigenous spiritual areas must stop now.

WHAT YOU CAN DO AS WE AWAIT THE COURT’s DECISION
We need supporters at both of the following locations:

1. Attend the Public Demonstration to Protect Native Spiritual Areas and Human Rights in front of the Courthouse on S. Virginia Street beginning at 8 am on both Jan. 20th and 21st.

2. Attend the Mt. Tenabo encampment and Arbor Vigil beginning Thursday Jan. 15th and lasting through the following week of hearings at the gathering area on the Southeast flank facing Grass Valley, Nevada. (Contact wsdp@igc.org for directions and supplies needed).

3. We also need people to write requests to President (elect) Barrack Obama and his transition team. This destruction of Indigenous spiritual areas must stop now and a commitment to good faith talks with the Western Shoshone must be made.

download flyers and handbills for distribution

sample letter
Background:
Barrick Gold Corporation is the world’s largest gold company and operates mainly on Indigenous lands for the extraction of gold. This company has refused to accept its social responsibility to protect Indigenous peoples’ land, sacred areas, water, and air pollution. Barrick has carried out many violations of Human Rights, and abusively opposed the struggle of Indigeous lands and people. Barrick is now beginning construction of an open pit cyanide mine directly on Mt. Tenabo – a Western Shoshone spiritual and cultural area. Shoshone opposition to this mine has been ongoing and has gained global attention. Barrick has failed to recognize these concerns and has instead attempted to divide the Shoshone people, giving money and gifts to the communities, and using its media channels to state that all the people are happy and are supportive of their operations. The time is critical now as Barrick has already received full approval from the U.S. Dept. of Interior and has begun ripping out the Pinon forest and digging the pit to create its “Cortez Hills Expansion Mine.”

This mine will cause permanent destruction of the cultural and spiritual practices of the Western Shoshone. Mt. Tenabo has been, and continues to be, used by Western Shoshone people as a central part of their religious practices and world view. Western Shoshone visit the mountain and the valley below (the location of the mine pit) for prayer ceremonies, gathering of sacred plants, fasting, and vision quests, among other uses. The Mountain also contains Western Shoshone gravesites. All of these values and uses will be destroyed by the Project. In addition, the massive pumping of groundwater will likely dry up sacred springs and streams on and around Mt. Tenabo.

No big mining project in Nevada has ever been denied by the United States. This is one must be stopped.

The details of the mine would:

* Disturb 6,792 acres of land, including a heap leach and waste rock facilities.

* Blast the new Cortez Hills mine Pit approximately 900 feet in length, 6,400 feet in width, and a maximum depth of 2,200 feet.

* Pump groundwater from around the pit with an average dewatering rate of approximately 1.8 billion gallons per year for ten years.

* Create a drop in the water table of 1,600 feet surrounding the pit, decreasing to 10 feet at a 3-4 mile radius of the pit.

* Potentially impact 50 springs and seeps in the area.

* Of the 11 non-Cortez Gold Mine water rights impacted, only one is expected to recover fully within 100 years after dewatering ceases

Again, we need your help to tell Barrick to stop presenting false information to the media making the Shoshone people and the violations of this mine to the lands and sacred areas invisible to the public. At this time we need your support to stop mining at Mount Tenabo and to tell the U.S. there must be a full review of the human rights violations of the Shoshone people. We ask for your support in this urgent case which has common elements with indigenous peoples and mining abuses around the world.

Some important talking points to consider in your Request:

* The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (Decision 1/68) has specifically raised concerns regarding the mining threat to Mt. Tenabo. The United States is in further violation of this Decision in approving this project – the Obama administration needs to understand this now before taking office.

* The Bush administration has strong connections to the mining industry and this decision approving the “Cortez Hills Expansion” before the new administration comes in is highly questionable.– President Obama should demonstrate the change he is committed to and respect Western Shoshone spirituality and the need to stop this destructive project and uphold the human rights and Treaty rights. Request that the Obama Team meet immediately with Western Shoshone representatives to investigate further the human rights violations.

* Barrick is well-aware of the concerns and the Mt. Tenabo mine proposal has been specifically criticized by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

* From the BLM’s own analysis, “Although not quantifiable, the project area and the region surrounding the project area have been home to local Indian groups for centuries, and the resources in the area, the value placed on those resources, and potential effects to those resources are intertwined with the culture of local Indian tribes more so than any other population in close proximity to the project area.” – Final Environmental Impact Statement

The details of the mine would:

* Disturb 6,792 acres of land, including a heap leach and waste rock facilities.

* Blast the new Cortez Hills mine Pit approximately 900 feet in length, 6,400 feet in width, and a maximum depth of 2,200 feet.

* Pump groundwater from around the pit with an average dewatering rate of approximately 1.8 billion gallons per year for ten years.

* Create a drop in the water table of 1,600 feet surrounding the pit, decreasing to 10 feet at a 3-4 mile radius of the pit.

* Potentially impact 50 springs and seeps in the area.

* Of the 11 non-Cortez Gold Mine water rights impacted, only one is expected to recover fully within 100 years after dewatering ceases

realtipof5451http://bsnorrell.blogspot.com/2009/01/western-shoshone-protest-continues-at.html

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