Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Federal Court Hearing Underway on Shoshone Request to Stop Mine Expansion on Mt. Tenabo

For Further Information Contact:
Julie Cavanaugh-Bill, Western Shoshone Defense Project (775) 397-6726
Dan Randolph, Great Basin Resource Watch, (775) 348-1986

Barack In, Barrick Out!

On Inauguration Day, U.S. Court to Hear Shoshone Request to Stop Mine Expansion at Spiritual Mountain

For Immediate Release

January 19, 2009 Reno, NV. At 9:00 a.m. tomorrow morning (PST), the Federal District Court in Reno, Nevada will begin a two day injunction hearing to protect the world-recognized Shoshone spiritual area, Mt. Tenabo from what would be one of the U.S.' largest open pit cyanide heap leach gold mines. Just two months ago, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management approved the construction of the mine, wholly owned and operated by Canadian multinational mining giant Barrick Gold Corporation. Western Shoshone communities, the Western Shoshone Defense Project and Great Basin Resource Watch filed suit immediately and a partial temporary restraining order was put in place in early December. Mt. Tenabo is home to local Shoshone creation stories, spirit life, medicinal, food and ceremonial rocks and plants 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".

Barrick, 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.

"Martin Luther King had a dream, Shoshone people have a nightmare. Barack is being inaugurated, Shoshone are being intimidated. Shoshone religion lives not in a building, but in a clean environment.." Says Larson Bill, Vice-Chairman of the South Fork Western Shoshone. "Mt. Tenabo is a specific area of spiritual significance for thousands of years hopefully our new President will support a change in favor of protection. Barack In. Barrick Out." "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 trys 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 one of a system of three mountains in the (Western Shoshone) homeland, … it is also 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 pinyon 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."

Just before Thanksgiving, a group of Shoshone grandmothers came together and held a Day of Resistance at the mountain. "The whole area is a temple". Stated one of the grandmothers, Mary McCloud. The grandmothers' will be coming together again at 8 a.m. each morning before the Federal Court House in Reno. Religious leaders from different faith backgrounds will be joining the Shoshone in the public demonstrations. The address is the Bruce D. Thompson Federal Building, 400 S. Virginia St., Reno, Nevada.

While the hearings are held in Reno, back at the mountain, some of the Shoshone men have built an arbor where they will be holding a 24 hour encampment and watch throughout the court hearing.

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

For more information on the Western Shoshone land rights issues, Cortez Hills Project, Mount Tenabo, and the legal challenge go to www.gbrw.org.

WHAT YOU CAN DO AS WE AWAIT THE COURT'S DECISION: We need supporters and media 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 which began Thursday Jan. 15th and is 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) (Beowawe/Crescent Valley exit of I-80, then south through Crescent Valley, turn left before Pipeline mine – head towards Grass Valley through Cortez Canyon, after leaving canyon look for large green army tent about a mile after exiting the canyon). Please remember NO Drugs, Alcohol or Firearms and – Respect the Mutual Court Order to refrain from disturbing the mine employees as they refrain also from disturbing us – stay away from operations at a minimum of 200 yards. The Court hearing on Tuesday and Wednesday is important and we must respect the mutual temporary restraining order. Report in to Mike Miller upon arrival.

Posted By Alliance for Indigenous Rights to Native Rights News at 1/20/2009 12:14:00 PM

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