Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

March 18, 2023

Quechan Running and Singing Away a Gold Mine on Sacred Land


Now, Saturday afternoon: Traditional Ribbon Skirt and Gourd and Tin Can Singing Gathering: Quechan host gathering in Winterhaven, California, to stop a gold mining from destroying sacred land. Photos copyright Ofelia Rivas, Tohono O'odham.

Now in Winterhaven, California, Quechan rise up against the latest gold mine. Photo by Ofelia Rivas

Quechan deliver powerful statements as a gold mine threatens their sacred land and the running trail  to their place of Creation. Photo copyright Ofelia Rivas.
Photos copyright Ofelia Rivas, Tohono O'odham.


Parker singers are joined by traditional singers from the region, as Quechan host runners, traditional dancers and singers to halt a gold mine on sacred land. Photo copyright Ofelia Rivas, Tohono O'odham.

Kwanamii Spirit Run: Quechan runners were on their way early today, running to halt a gold mine on sacred land. Photos copyright Ofelia Rivas, Tohono O'odham 

Quechan are running to halt a Canadian company based in British Columbia from destroying their sacred place in southern California, near the borders of Arizona and Mexico. The proposed gold mine would contaminate the water with cyanide and mercury, and destroy the fragile ecosystem and their sacred places. Photo copyright Ofelia Rivas.

"Every mountain is considered sacred," said Preston Arrow-weed, Quechan.

                                           Video by Helene Arrow-weed


Sacred Mountains, Sacred Running Trail

Indian Pass is located in the desert of Imperial County, California. For the Quechan Tribe, this area is part of a tribal cultural landscape, called Trail of Dreams or Xam Kwatchan Trail Network. This ancient trail network is held sacred because it connects the Quechan people to their place of creation, Avi Kwa Ame (Spirit Mountain Nevada).

More than 20 years ago, tribal leaders and environmentalists successfully stopped mining at Indian Pass. However, as of 2023, two mining companies are proposing gold exploration projects in this area.

Today Southern Empire Resources Corp. is proposing to build 8 miles of roads, drill 65 holes down to 800 feet, and use 2,000 gallons of water per day as part of their Oro Cruz exploration project in the Cargo Muchacho Mountains southwest of Indian Pass. The BLM and Imperial County are reviewing comments on a draft Environmental Assessment and Mitigated Negative Declaration, deciding whether or not to approve the project or require more detailed environmental review. -- Earthworks

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