Tribes protest Newmont's Nevada miningPublished by MAC on 2008-03-24
Tribes protest Newmont's Nevada mining
24th March 2008
by Gargi Chakrabarty, Rocky Mountain News
More than 50 representatives from native tribes gathered at the state capitol this morning to lend their support to the Western Shoshone's fight with Newmont Mining Corp. over the gold producer's mining business in their Nevada communities.
Participants in the Longest Walk 2 urged the Denver company to minimize its gold mining footprints on the environment and respect the Western Shoshone's sacred places.
"We are giving (Newmont) invitation and opportunity to do a better job," said Mano Cockrum, coordinator of the northern route of the Longest Walk 2. "This is a choice, and they can be a part of it by employing better policies in the work they do in the indigenous communities.
"They should adhere to the social responsibility statement they have on their Web site," Cockrum added. "We feel that they are putting out words out there but not adhering to them. They are providing false print for shareholders."
"The title to Newmont's properties in Nevada comes from the U.S. government. While the Western Shoshone believe these government lands belong to them, these claims were resolved with the US government long before Newmont began mining in Nevada," said Newmont spokesman Omar Jabara. "All of Newmont's Nevada operations are on lands leased to us by the federal Burea of Land Management or legally purchased by Newmont. As a private company, it is not Newmont's place to decide land claims between Tribes and the federal government."
Participants on the northern route of the Longest Walk 2, which started in San Francisco on Feb. 11, are in Denver today. They began the day at the Denver Art Museum with a morning blessing followed by a rally.
Meanwhile, the southern route walkers, comprising more than 150 participants, are passing through Arizona. The two groups plan to meet in Washington, D.C., on July 11.
"We are taking our issues to U.S. government officials," said Cockrum, referring to environmental injustice, protection of sacred sites, cultural survival, youth empowerment and eroding American Indian rights shared along the route.
The first Longest Walk in 1978 helped pass the American Indian Religious Freedom Act and defeat 11 legislative bills that would have abrogated native treaties, she said.
During today's gathering at the Capitol, a proclamation from Ernest House Jr. on behalf of Gov. Bill Ritter was delivered supporting the walk and its mission.