EARTHWORKS

"Columbus" Day honored: EARTHWORKS activists support the Western Shoshone

Alan Septoff's avatar
By Alan Septoff

October 12, 2010

The Western Shoshone have lived in Nevada's Crescent Valley for thousands of years.

And they've regarded the Crescent Valley s Mt. Tenabo, and its springs, as sacred -- a place of worship -- for all that time.

And yet the U.S. government continues to approve mining operations that would cause great harm to this important place.

[NOTE: this blog was originally sent to the EARTHWORKS action list on Columbus Day.  You can become an EARTHWORKS e-activist too.]

Mt. Tenabo, with Barrick's mine workings crowding at its foot.
Photo: Great Basin Resource Watch

The Western Shoshone have lived in Nevada's Crescent Valley for thousands of years.

And they've regarded the Crescent Valley s Mt. Tenabo, and its springs, as sacred -- a place of worship -- for all that time.

And yet the U.S. government continues to approve mining operations that would cause great harm to this important place.

As we shared with you during last week's call to action, the federal Bureau of Land Management has permitted Canadian Barrick Gold to mine at the roots of Mt. Tenabo. However, there's one court-ordered caveat: BLM and Barrick must come up with a plan that protects the cultural and spiritual significance of the Mt. Tenabo s sacred springs.

Last week's action alert was a call to tell BLM that their plan was grossly inadequate -- that it did not protect what made the springs sacred, their sources.

This Indigenous People's Day (in some circles, but certainly not among the Western Shoshone, referred to as Columbus Day), we write to thank you. We asked for letters, and you sent them by the thousands.

And we also wanted to share with you a note from one of the Western Shoshone:

Thank you for your letters. I hope that, this time, the federal government will listen. Many Americans celebrate the "discovery" of Christopher Columbus, but for native people it marks a time of change of our way of life: our lands taken over, religious rights, and practices not accepted. So, it is no celebration for us. Despite this opposition and the poisonous consequences of that arrival we still pray to the Water, Air, Sun and Mother Earth and continue to practice our way of life, in tune with nature's way. Perhaps this time, in at least this one case, the U.S. government will respect our rights.
-- Larson Bill, Western Shoshone, South Fork Tribe

The comment period for public input on BLM's "spring protection plan" has closed. BLM is now considering all comments submitted -- including your letters. When they're done, they will have to submit a revised plan. That could come out in weeks or months. We'll keep you posted.

In the meantime, know that EARTHWORKS remains committed to fighting for communities and the environment however we can -- whether by challenging plans that violate indigenous people s rights -- like this one -- or by fighting to reform the antiquated 1872 Mining Law which made it possible in the first place.

Tagged with: western shoshone, sacred sites, mt. tenabo, great basin resource watch, blm, barrick

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