Friday, November 28, 2008

Western Shoshone File Suit to Prevent Desecration of Sacred Mount Tenabo


For Immediate Release
Contacts: Carrie Dann, Western Shoshone grandmother, 775-468-0230
Dan Randolph, Great Basin Resource Watch, 775-722-4056
Jason Bill, Western Shoshone Defense Project, 775-397-6726 or 775-744-2565


Restraining Order Requested – Shoshone Grandmothers Plan Resistance Day Proposed Mine Site

November 25, 2008, Crescent Valley, Newe Sogobi ( Nevada). As the holidays approach and the world watches President-elect Obama and the bailouts; back in Nevada, home state of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, it’s business as usual. Late yesterday, attorneys for several Western Shoshone tribes and non-profit indigenous and environmental organizations filed a request in the federal District Court in Reno, NV seeking a restraining order against the construction of one of the country’s largest open pit gold mines on the flank of spiritual Mt. Tenabo. The mine company has already begun demolition of the pinyon forest with heavy machinery on the site ripping out trees at a reported rate of 30 acres per day.

As they await a Court hearing and feeling compelled to take immediate action, tomorrow, a group of Shoshone grandmothers will travel to the proposed mine site to conduct a day of Resistance to the destruction of the area and the approval of the mine by the United States. Mt. Tenabo is a well-known home to local Shoshone creation stories, spirit life, medicinal, food and ceremonial plants and rocks and continues to be used to this day by Shoshone for spiritual ceremonies and cultural practices. Over the years, tens of thousands of individuals and organizations from across the United States and around the world have joined with the Shoshone and voiced their opposition to this mine –in fact, the mine is being referred to as the “most opposed mine in the world”.

“We want them off this mountain, this is a spiritual genocide what’s going on; destroying our mountain is destroying our beliefs. Removing water is death to the mountains. No way. We will take whatever action we need to – we’re going through the U.S. courts and we will stand on this Mountain in support of her and call on those people around the world to stand with us in solidarity.” Stated Carrie Dann, Western Shoshone Grandmother, Executive Director of the Western Shoshone Defense Project and recipient of the Right Livelihood Award (the alternate to the Nobel Peace Prize).

Barrick Gold Corporation, the world’s largest gold mining company, headquartered in Canada, plans to construct and operate the mine, known as the Cortez Hills Expansion Project. The area is located entirely within the territory of the Western Shoshone Nation, recognized in the 1863 Treaty of Ruby Valley. The Mine would blast and excavate a new massive open pit on Mount Tenabo over 900 acres in size, with a depth of over 2,000 feet. It would include several new waste disposal and processing facilities (including a cyanide heap-leaching facility), consisting of approximately 1,577 million tons of waste rock, 53 million tons of tailings material, and 112 million tons of spent heap leach material. The Mine would include an extensive groundwater pumping system to dewater Mount Tenabo and associated water pipelines that will transport the pumped water away from Mount Tenabo. In total, the mine would permanently destroy approximately 6,800 acres land on and around Mount Tenabo, over 90% of which is classified as federal “public” land.

In 2002 and 2003 the BLM conducted a series of armed seizures in the same area, of the Dann family’s cattle and horses, claiming the Danns were “trespassing” on public lands. The Danns, along with other Western Shoshone, have challenged the U.S. claims to their ancestral and treaty lands as recognized by the 1863 Treaty of Ruby Valley, which recognized Western Shoshone rights in much of Nevada. These legal battles went all the way to the Supreme Court, and on to International Fora. In March 2006 the Western Shoshone received a ruling from the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, CERD, a treaty body set up by the United Nations and ratified by the United States in 1993.

The Decision issued by CERD, and reconfirmed this year, urges the United States to immediately freeze, desist and stop any further actions against the Western Shoshone peoples, including legislative efforts to privatize their land. CERD ordered the United States to stop immediately and initiate dialogue with the Western Shoshone. The Decision specifically mentioned Mt. Tenabo and the destruction of Western Shoshone lands by mining corporations.

“In the 1800’s, the U.S. sent in the Calvary to remove the Indians and to kill off our sources of food, such as the Buffalo. Now here they are, just days before Thanksgiving in 2008, destroying our Mountain of life and the pinyon trees which are our food. This is happening today and it’s outrageous.” Says Joyce McDade, Western Shoshone grandmother.
Barbara Ridley, another Western Shoshone grandmother participating in the resistance states: Who’s Thanksgiving is this anyway? What have we got to celebrate? There’s no Thanksgiving for our people – they tell us we don’t have our land but we still use it for our foods, plants and ceremonies. This mountain is very important to us and people should respect our request to leave it alone.”

The plaintiffs are being represented in court by Roger Flynn of the non-profit legal firm, the Western Mining Action Project, which specializes in mining law. The Grandmothers’ Resistance Day will take place of the South Flank of Mt. Tenabo at the proposed mine site beginning at approximately 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday, November 26th.

For more information on the Western Shoshone land rights issues, Cortez Hills Project, Mount Tenabo, and the legal challenge go to http://www.gbrw.org/ and http://www.wsdp.org/. A copy of the Temporary Restraining Order filed yesterday is attached.


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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Lehman Brightman live on Earthcycles AIM West Reunion

video

Lehman Brightman speaks at the AIM West Reunion on Wednesday afternoon. Keith Secola and Charlie Hill ready to perform. Listen live at: http://www.earthcycles.net

Brief video by Brenda Norrell/Click arrow to watch.


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Thanksgiving: A National Day of Mourning for Indians

Thanksgiving: A National Day of Mourning for Indians
Published Nov 24, 2008 9:19 PM
Following are excerpts from a statement written by Mahtowin Munro (Lakota) and Moonanum James (Wampanoag), co-leaders of United American Indians of New England. Read the entire statement at http://www.uaine.org/.


Every year since 1970, United American Indians of New England have organized the National Day of Mourning observance in Plymouth at noon on Thanksgiving Day. Every year, hundreds of Native people and our supporters from all four directions join us. Every year, including this year, Native people from throughout the Americas will speak the truth about our history and about current issues and struggles we are involved in.

Why do hundreds of people stand out in the cold rather than sit home eating turkey and watching football? Do we have something against a harvest festival?

Of course not. But Thanksgiving in this country—and in particular in Plymouth—is much more than a harvest home festival. It is a celebration of pilgrim mythology.
According to this mythology, the pilgrims arrived, the Native people fed them and welcomed them, the Indians promptly faded into the background, and everyone lived happily ever after.

The pilgrims are glorified and mythologized because the circumstances of the first English-speaking colony in Jamestown were frankly too ugly (for example, they turned to cannibalism to survive) to hold up as an effective national myth.

The pilgrims did not find an empty land any more than Columbus “discovered” anything. Every inch of this land is Indian land. The pilgrims (who did not even call themselves pilgrims) did not come here seeking religious freedom; they already had that in Holland.

They came here as part of a commercial venture. They introduced sexism, racism, anti-lesbian and -gay bigotry, jails and the class system to these shores. One of the very first things they did when they arrived on Cape Cod—before they even made it to Plymouth—was to rob Wampanoag graves at Corn Hill and steal as much of the Indians’ winter provisions of corn and beans as they were able to carry.

They were no better than any other group of Europeans when it came to their treatment of the Indigenous peoples here. And, no, they did not even land at that sacred shrine called Plymouth Rock, a monument to racism and oppression which we are proud to say we buried in 1995.

The first official “Day of Thanksgiving” was proclaimed in 1637 by Governor Winthrop. He did so to celebrate the safe return of men from the Massachusetts Bay Colony who had gone to Mystic, Conn., to participate in the massacre of over 700 Pequot women, children and men.
About the only true thing in the whole mythology is that these pitiful European strangers would not have survived their first several years in “New England” were it not for the aid of Wampanoag people. What Native people got in return for this help was genocide, theft of our lands and never-ending repression. We are either treated as quaint relics from the past or are, to most people, virtually invisible.

When we dare to stand up for our rights, we are considered unreasonable. When we speak the truth about the history of the European invasion, we are often told to “go back where we came from.” Our roots are right here. They do not extend across any ocean.

National Day of Mourning began in 1970 when a Wampanoag man, Wamsutta Frank James, was asked to speak at a state dinner celebrating the 350th anniversary of the pilgrim landing. He refused to speak false words in praise of the white man for bringing civilization to us poor heathens. Native people from throughout the Americas came to Plymouth where they mourned their forebears who had been sold into slavery, burned alive, massacred, cheated and mistreated since the arrival of the Pilgrims in 1620.

But the commemoration of National Day of Mourning goes far beyond the circumstances of 1970.

Can we give thanks as we remember Native political prisoner Leonard Peltier, who was framed up by the FBI and has been falsely imprisoned since 1976? Despite mountains of evidence exonerating Peltier and the proven misconduct of federal prosecutors and the FBI, Peltier has been denied a new trial.

To Native people, the case of Peltier is one more ordeal in a litany of wrongdoings committed by the U.S. government against us. While the media in New England present images of the “Pequot miracle” in Connecticut, the vast majority of Native people continue to live in the most abysmal poverty.

Can we give thanks for the fact that, on many reservations, unemployment rates surpass 50 percent? Our life expectancies are much lower, our infant mortality and teen suicide rates much higher than those of white Americans. Racist stereotypes of Native people, such as those perpetuated by the Cleveland Indians, the Atlanta Braves and countless local and national sports teams, persist. Every single one of the more than 350 treaties that Native nations signed has been broken by the U.S. government. The bipartisan budget cuts have severely reduced educational opportunities for Native youth and the development of new housing on reservations, and have caused cause deadly cutbacks in healthcare and other necessary services.

Are we to give thanks for being treated as unwelcome in our own country?
When the descendants of the Aztec, Maya and Inca flee to the U.S., the descendants of the wash-ashore pilgrims term them “illegal aliens” and hunt them down.

We object to the “Pilgrim Progress” parade and to what goes on in Plymouth because they are making millions of tourist dollars every year from the false pilgrim mythology. That money is being made off the backs of our slaughtered Indigenous ancestors.

Increasing numbers of people are seeking alternatives to such holidays as Columbus Day and Thanksgiving. They are coming to the conclusion that if we are ever to achieve some sense of community, we must first face the truth about the history of this country and the toll that history has taken on the lives of millions of Indigenous, Black, Latin@, Asian, and poor and working-class white people.

The myth of Thanksgiving, served up with dollops of European superiority and manifest destiny, just does not work for many people in this country. As Malcolm X once said about the African-American experience in America, “We did not land on Plymouth Rock. Plymouth Rock landed on us.” Exactly.
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BLM Gives the Go-Ahead to Desecration of Western Shoshone Sacred Mountain

For Immediate Release:
Contacts:
Larson Bill, South Fork Band Council of Western Shoshone, 775-744-2565/775-397-6726
Dan Randolph, Great Basin Resource Watch, 775-722-4056
Julie Cavanaugh-Bill, Western Shoshone Defense Project, 775-397-1371


Thanksgiving the “Cortez” Way - U.S. Ignores Western Shoshone Objections – Barrick Gold Readies Itself to Carve up Mount Tenabo Spiritual Area


November 20, 2008 Reno and Crescent Valley, NV

Last week, after years of determined opposition from Western Shoshone, the U.S. Department of Interior, through its Bureau of Land Management (BLM), approved one of the largest open pit cyanide heap leach gold mines in the United States on the flank of Mount Tenabo – an area well-known for its spiritual and cultural importance to the Western Shoshone. The area is home to local Shoshone creation stories, spirit life, medicinal, food and ceremonial plants and items and continues to be used to this day by Shoshone for spiritual and cultural practices. Over the years, tens of thousands of individuals and organizations from across the United States and around the world have joined with the Shoshone and voiced their opposition to this mine. The mine has been referred to as one of the most opposed mines in the world and indeed the level of public opposition is unprecedented for the BLM. With the threat of mine construction beginning as early as this week, the South Fork Band Council of Western Shoshone, the Timbisha Shoshone Tribe, the Western Shoshone Defense Project, and Great Basin Resource Watch, today filed a complaint in the Reno Federal District Court seeking declaratory and injunctive relief to stop the mine.

Barrick Gold Corporation, the world’s largest gold mining company, headquartered in Toronto, Canada, plans to construct and operate the mine, known as the Cortez Hills Expansion Project. The Project area is located entirely within the territory of the Western Shoshone Nation, recognized in the 1863 Treaty of Ruby Valley. The Mine would blast and excavate a new massive open pit on Mount Tenabo over 900 acres in size, with a depth of over 2,000 feet. It would include several new waste disposal and processing facilities (including a cyanide heap-leaching facility), consisting of approximately 1,577 million tons of waste rock, 53 million tons of tailings material, and 112 million tons of spent heap leach material. The Mine would include an extensive groundwater pumping system to dewater Mount Tenabo (in order to keep the open pit and mine workings dry during mining) and associated water pipelines that will transport the pumped water away from Mount Tenabo. In total, the mine would permanently destroy approximately 6,800 acres land on and around Mount Tenabo, over 90% of which is classified as federal “public” land.

“How are we, as a nation, showing our values, if we allow a transnational corporation to destroy this ‘church’ for all time, just to get 10 years worth of gold.” Says Larson Bill, Vice-Chairman of the South Fork Band Council. “There are dozens of active gold mines on Western Shoshone lands already, there is no need for this one, which is clearly immoral and irresponsible. The public should be aware that Nevada is not a waste land, but is the home of ranchers, sportsmen, fishermen and homesteaders that have enjoyed the lands alongside the Shoshone people for generations. We have been clear in our opposition to this mine and while Barrick tries to cloud the real issues with gifts and money, we continue to oppose this project – they have not bought our people, the traditions nor the lands of the Shoshone.” he adds.

The proposed mine area has been found by the BLM, in repeated ethnographic studies, as being of extreme spiritual and cultural importance to the Western Shoshone. One report says: “Mt. Tenabo is … considered a traditional locus of power and source of life, and figures in creation stories and world renewal. As the tallest mountain in the area – the most likely to capture snow and generate water to grow piƱon and nourish life – it is literally a life-giver. Water is to earth what blood is to the body, and these subterranean waterways are likened to the earth’s arteries and veins.”

Carrie Dann, a world renowned Western Shoshone elder, and recipient of the Right Livelihood Award (known as the “alternative Nobel Peace Prize”) has been among those to lead the fight to protect Mount Tenabo from mining for over 15 years. “Mount Tenabo should be left alone – no further disturbance. This mine will drain the water from Mount Tenabo. They will be sucking the water out of the mountain forever. The destruction of the water is like the destruction of the blood of the earth; you are destroying life of the earth and the people and wildlife that depend on it. Dewatering is taking the life of future generations. Water is sacred, all life depends on it,” says Carrie Dann.

“Next week we celebrate Thanksgiving - The question that the courts and the people of this country need to ask themselves is will we continue to tolerate these violations against the First Peoples of this land or will we finally turn the tide of injustice and protect these sacred areas?” Says Julie Cavanaugh-Bill, Consultant to the Western Shoshone Defense Project.
“None of us are opposed to mining, if it is done responsibly, however this project is as irresponsible as it gets. The BLM has a legal responsibility to protect the air, water, and ecological values of the area as well as the religious freedom of Western Shoshone, and to fully analyze the impacts of a proposed project. In each case, this mine would clearly violate the law.” Says Dan Randolph, Executive Director of Great Basin Resource Watch. “This is an example of how the Bush Administration is rushing to protect their corporate friends in their last few months in power. The BLM denied requests to extend the comment period on the Environmental Impact Statement not only from us, but also from several Western Shoshone tribal governments. Therefore, we are forced to now turn to the courts to stop this project. We know that Barrick will begin work on the mine as soon as they can, to cause enough harm in an attempt to make the religious rights arguments moot, and the BLM and Bush Administration appear to be more than willing to help them in every way possible.”

The plaintiffs are being represented in court by Roger Flynn of the non-profit legal firm, the Western Mining Action Project, which specializes in mining, public land, and environmental law.

For more information on the Cortez Hills Project, Mount Tenabo, and the legal challenge go to http://www.gbrw.org/ and http://www.wsdp.org/

(Photo courtesy of Great Basin Resource Watch, http://www.gbrw.org/)


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