Western Shohsone battle gold rush
Caretakers of the Land
Western Shoshone wage battle against modern gold rush
by Meg Hewings
Excerpt: Not only has the US government used Shoshone lands to test hundreds of nuclear weapons, dispose of thousands of metric tonnes of radioactive waste, and proposed Yucca Mountain as a national dumpsite for (even more) deadly nuclear waste; modern corporate gold mining, including many Canadian operations, now threatens to gouge the heart right out of Western Shoshone territory.
“Two years ago they counted over 260,000 abandoned mines in Nevada – and that’s not counting new ones opening up,” says Larson Bill, Vice-Chairman for the South Fork Shoshone community and Community Organizer for the Western Shoshone Defense Project (WSDP), established to protect, preserve and restore Shoshone – or as they are also known, Newe – rights and lands for present and future generations.
Despite their small staff, the Defense Project’s office is abuzz with activity, work and noise on this day, as most. Even so, Bill manages to remain measured and thoughtful on the phone as he explains the tribe’s latest struggle.
These days he and the WSDP are busy trying to stop the Federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the US government from permitting Canadian-owned Barrick Gold Corporation, now the world’s largest gold-mining company, from mining on or any nearer to Mt. Tenabo, a sacred mountain to the Western Shoshone and fundamental to Newe worship.
“Mt. Tenabo, the proposed site for Barrick’s latest expansion project, is home to Shoshone creation stories,” says Julie Cavanaugh-Bill (formerly Fishel), lawyer for the WSDP. What the mining company is planning is akin to razing churches or mosques, according to the WSDP.
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