MAC: Mines and Communities

Western Shoshone and Allies Challenge Department of Interior Decision to Open Spiritual and Cultura

Published by MAC on 2004-11-30

Western Shoshone and Allies Challenge Department of Interior Decision to Open Spiritual and Cultural Area to Further Destruction by Gold Mining

Western Shoshone Defense Project, P.O. Box 211308, Crescent Valley, NV 89821

Press Release – For Immediate Release

November 30, 2004

Crescent Valley, NV - On Friday, November 26, the Te-Moak Tribe of Western Shoshone Indians, the Western Shoshone Defense Project, and Great Basin Mine Watch joined forces and filed a petition for review with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM)’s State Director Robert Abbey.

The Petition challenges BLM’s decision to approve an expansion of mining exploration activities by Cortez Gold Mines in and around Horse Canyon. Horse Canyon is located at the center of Western Shoshone territory and immediately adjacent to the sacred Mt, Tenabo. BLM approved the expansion despite Western Shoshone protests and BLM recognition of the area as a site of Cultural and Religious Importance under the National Historic Preservation Act. The area continues to be used by Western Shoshone for hunting, gathering, religious and cultural purposes. As explained in the petition, these traditional uses will be adversely affected, if not destroyed, by the approved activities. Unfortunately, BLM failed to adequately consult Western Shoshone about its decision. As such, the petition requests that the project be stayed and that the State Director remand the decision to the BLM for full compliance with federal law.

Horse Canyon is part of the same area where hundreds of horses belonging to Mary and Carrie Dann, Western Shoshone grandmothers, were seized last year by federal agents under the auspices of the Department of Interior.* Now the only “horses” heading toward the canyon are metal “horses” in the form of drill rigs and bulldozers as Cortez Gold Mine, a joint venture of Placer Dome, Inc. (Canadian-owned) and Kennecott Minerals (Australian-owned) rides in on BLM’s approval.

Jody Abe, Western Shoshone and Te-Moak Tribal Council member explained, “we are outraged. Once again, the Tribes have been left out of decision making process that affects our people and our environment. The Te-Moak Tribe of Western Shoshone has an interest in the preservation and protection of our homeland. The issue of our title as recognized by the 1863 Treaty of Ruby Valley is still intact and federal court action and other actions are ongoing, the Department of Interior and the mining companies know this and must begin taking these issues seriously.”

Carrie Dann, Western Shoshone grandmother likewise explained,“I will never understand it, for years we used our best efforts to educate and stop further destruction of our people and those things that are sacred to us. And yet, it is this federal administration who claims ’moral values’ and these companies who claim to be socially responsible that have shown nothing but disrespect for the ways of the Shoshone people. What good are museums for Native Americans and cultural centers if our culture is destroyed? We are not artifacts in the past - we’re here, we’ve always been here and we will always be here. We were placed here on this land by the Creator as caretakers – our voices must be heard in decisions affecting all that is sacred, which includes the land.”

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