Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

January 5, 2023

Reno: March and Rally to Protect Thacker Pass from Lithium Mine as Court Begins

Photo courtesy Protect Thacker Pass now in Reno

Thacker Pass Protectors March and Rally Outside Federal Court January 5, 2023

“It’s Our Responsibility to Protect Sacred Sites” -- Chairman Arlan D. Melendez

By Reno-Sparks Indian Colony

Censored News

Jan. 5, 2023

RENO, Nevada — The Reno-Sparks Indian Colony and other opponents of the planned Thacker Pass lithium mine marched to the Bruce R. Thompson Courthouse on Thursday morning and are now rallying outside.

Inside the building, a federal judge is now scheduled to hear arguments from attorneys representing tribes, environmental groups, and a local rancher who have all sued to halt the mine, as well as from Lithium Nevada—the company behind the mine— and the Bureau of Land Management, which permitted the project.

The “final oral arguments” scheduled for today represent the culmination of a two-year legal battle, but Judge Miranda Du isn’t expected to make a decision on the case until at least the following week.

Mine opponents plan to meet at 8am at the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony Smoke Shop 2 (901 Golden Lane) and march 1.6 miles to the courthouse at 400 S. Virginia Street, and rally outside from 10am-3pm. Hot drinks will be available and speakers, including visitors from indigenous communities threatened by mining projects in Arizona, will address the crowd.

Thacker Pass, known as Peehee Mu’huh in Paiute, is a sacred site to regional tribes whose ancestors lived in the area for thousands of years, and were massacred there on at least two occasions.

Lithium Nevada claims that its lithium mine will be essential to producing batteries for combating global warming, and the Biden administration has previously indicated some support for Thacker Pass. Opponents of the project have called this “greenwashing,” arguing that the project would harm important wildlife habitats and create significant pollution. They say that electric cars are still harmful to the planet.

Media photo, video and interview opportunity:

WHO: Reno-Sparks Indian Colony Chairman, Arlan D. Melendez; Other Plaintiffs & Tribal Members participating in Peaceful March.

WHAT: Peaceful March grounded in Native American Spiritual Prayer while final oral arguments will be heard regarding the Thacker Pass Litigation Case (see attached for flyer)

WHEN: Thursday, January 5, 2023

March starts at 8am, Smokeshop 1 (901 Golden Lane). Peaceful March will start with a Prayer by a Tribal Elder, Remarks by Chairman Melendez, and Organizers will rally the marchers before the march.

Arrive Federal Building at 10am (400 South Virginia Street);

Rally & Invited Speakers 10am-3pm at Federal Building.

WHERE: 10am-3pm at Bruce R. Thompson Courthouse, 400 South Virginia Street, Reno, NV 89502

Huge thank you to City of Reno, Reno Police Department, Patagonia, Great Basin Resource Watch, PLAN Nevada, People of Red Mountain, RSIC Tribal Police Dept., RSIC Emergency Services, Washoe County CERT, RSIC CERT, RSIC Public Works Dept., RSIC UNITYYouth Council for helping us plan a safe and peaceful march. Also, everyone who has donated time, energy and money to support Protect PeeHee Mu’Huh / Protect Thacker Pass.


January 15, 2021 — Due to “fast-tracked” permitting under the Trump Administration, the Bureau of Land Management releases a Record of the Decision approving the Thacker Pass mine less than a year after beginning the Environmental Impact Statement process. On the same day, Max Wilbert and Will Falk established the Protect Thacker Pass camp.

February 11, 2021 — Local rancher Edward Bartell files a lawsuit (Case No. 3:21-cv-00080-MMD-CLB) in U.S. District Court alleging the proposed mine violates the Endangered Species Act by harming Lahontan Cutthroat Trout, and would cause irreparable harm to springs, wet meadows, and water tables.

February 26, 2021 — Four environmental organizations (Basin and Range Watch, Great Basin Resource Watch, Wildlands Defense, and Western Watersheds Project) file another lawsuit (Case No. 3:21-cv-00103- MMD-CLB) in U.S. District Court, alleging that BLM violated the National Environmental PolicyAct, Federal Land Policy Management Act, and other laws in permitting the Thacker Pass mine.

June 24, 2021 — The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), the oldest and largest national organization of American Indian and Alaska Native tribal governments, calls on the Department of the Interior to rescind the permits for the Thacker Pass project.

Spring and Summer 2021 — Rallies, protests, and prayer runs take place in Orovada, Winnemucca, Reno, Carson City, and at Thacker Pass. More than 100 mine opponents gather at Thacker Pass to commemorate the 156-year anniversary of a September 12, 1865 massacre of at least 31 Northern Paiute men, women, and children committed by the 1st Nevada Cavalry. Thousands of people visit the site.

July 19, 2021 — The Reno-Sparks Indian Colony and Atsa koodakuh wyh Nuwu (People of Red Mountain) files a successful motion to intervene in Federal District Court (Case No. 3:21-cv-00080-MMD-CLB) alleging that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) violated the National Historic PreservationAct (NHPA) in permitting the planned lithium mine.

August 2, 2021 — Burns Paiute Tribe files a motion to intervene on the side of tribal plaintiffs (Case No. 3:21-cv-00080-MMD-CLB).

September 15, 2021 — Bureau of Land Management accuses Will Falk and Max Wilbert of trespass for providing bathrooms to native elders at Thacker Pass, fining them $49,890.13.

October 8, 2021 — Eighteen native elders from three regional tribes request a BLM permit for their ceremonial camp. The BLM does not respond.

November 29, 2021 — The Reno-Sparks Indian Colony files an amended complaint in federal court alleging major previously unknown violations of the law. In January, Judge Miranda Du rejects the amended complaint because she wants to make a final decision on the case within a few months (note that the case has now continued for another calendar year).

February 11th, 2022 — Winnemucca Indian Colony files a motion to intervene in the lawsuit on the side of plaintiffs, claiming that BLM’s contention that they consulted with the Tribe is completely false. Judge Du rejects this motion shortly afterwards with the same reasoning used above.

April 4th, 2022 — Reno-Sparks Indian Colony files a Motion for Discovery Sanctions alleging that the BLM has been disobeying court orders and making “reckless, false statements” in a deliberate attempt to abuse the justice system and limit judicial oversight. Judge Du agrees with RSIC, but rejects the motion on a technicality.

August 2022 — BLM “discovers” five new historic sites at Thacker Pass and for the first time acknowledges the September 12, 1865 massacre took place, but continues to reject tribal expertise.

September 2022 — Lithium Nevada Corporation begins digging up portions of Thacker Pass for “bulk sampling” despite consultation still being ongoing between the Bureau of Land Management and regional tribes over cultural sites.

October 2022 — Dozens of mining activists from four continents visit Thacker Pass as part of the Western MiningAction Network biennial conference.

-Join us this Thursday, January 5th, 8am-3pm. Peaceful March will start at 8am from Smokeshop 2 (901 Golden Lane, Reno) and arrive Federal Court Building (400 South Virginia Street, Reno) around 10am. Peaceful March will continue through 3pm. Warming station at Patagonia Outlet store.

-Dress warm (snow in the forecast) & BYO umbrella.

- Huge thank you to City of Reno, Reno Police Department, Patagonia, Great Basin Resource Watch, PLAN Nevada, People of Red Mountain, RSIC Tribal Police Dept., RSIC Emergency Services, Washoe County CERT, RSIC CERT, RSIC Public Works Dept., RSIC UNITYYouth Council for helping us plan a safe and peaceful march. Also, everyone who has donated time, energy and money to support Protect PeeHee Mu’Huh / Protect Thacker Pass.

About the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony

The Reno-Sparks Indian Colony formed a federally recognized government in 1936 under the Indian Reorganization Act. Located in Reno, Nev., the RSIC consists of 1,296 members fromthree Great Basin Tribes – the Paiute, Shoshone and Washoe Tribes. The RSIC is a vibrant, diverse organization, which balances traditional teachings and rich culture with contemporary business methods. Our mission is to offer opportunities for tribal members to improve their lives and enhance tribal values by making community programs, services, and projects available, while educating the public about our history, culture and modern lifestyle.

“No Tree has branches so foolish as to fight amongst themselves” – NativeAmerican Proverb

Bethany Sam

Public Relations / Community Information Officer

Reno-Sparks Indian Colony


Office |775-329-2936 ext. 3268

34 Reservation Road

Reno, NV 89502

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