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Restraining Order Filed – Shoshone Grandmothers Plan Resistance Day Proposed Mine Site
CRESCENT VALLY, NEWE SOGOBI, Nev. - November 25 - 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.