Shoshone: Barack In, Barrick Out!
Mount Tenabo in focus ⬿

Shoshone: Barack In, Barrick Out!

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John Ahni Schertow
January 20, 2009
 

As the Inauguration of President Barrick Obama approaches, the Western Shoshone prepare for a two-day injunction hearing to protect Mount Tenabo, a world-recognized spiritual area, from what would become one of the largest open pit cyanide heap leach gold mines in the United States.

The hearing starts at 9:00 a.m. (PST), at the Federal District Court in Reno, Nevada. If you’re in the area, there is demonstration at the Courthouse on S. Virginia Street beginning today and tomorrow at 8:00 am.

If you’re not in the area but would still like to support the Shoshone, you can write a letter to Barack Obama and his transition team, asking for a commitment to engage in good faith talks with the Western Shoshone as well as a full review of the human rights situation propelled by Barrick Gold, the company behind the mining project.

Background (c/o the Western Shoshone Defense Project)

Barrick Gold Corporation is the world’s largest gold company and operates mainly on Indigenous lands for the extraction of gold. This company has refused to accept its social responsibility to protect Indigenous peoples’ land, sacred areas, water, and air pollution. Barrick has carried out many violations of Human Rights, and abusively opposed the struggle of Indigeous lands and people. Barrick is now beginning construction of an open pit cyanide mine directly on Mt. Tenabo a Western Shoshone spiritual and cultural area. Shoshone opposition to this mine has been ongoing and has gained global attention. Barrick has failed to recognize these concerns and has instead attempted to divide the Shoshone people, giving money and gifts to the communities, and using its media channels to state that all the people are happy and are supportive of their operations. The time is critical now as Barrick has already received full approval from the U.S. Dept. of Interior and has begun ripping out the pinyon forest and digging the pit to create its “Cortez Hills Expansion Mine”.
This mine will cause permanent destruction of the cultural and spiritual practices of the Western Shoshone. Mt. Tenabo has been, and continues to be, used by Western Shoshone people as a central part of their religious practices and world view. Western Shoshone visit the mountain and the valley below (the location of the mine pit) for prayer ceremonies, gathering of sacred plants, fasting, and vision quests, among other uses. The Mountain also contains Western Shoshone gravesites. All of these values and uses will be destroyed by the Project. In addition, the massive pumping of groundwater will likely dry up sacred springs and streams on and around Mt. Tenabo.

No big mining project in Nevada has ever been denied by the United States. This is one must be stopped.

Again, we need your help to tell Barrick to to stop presenting false information to the media making the Shoshone people and the violations of this mine to the lands and sacred areas invisible to the public. At this time we need your support to stop mining at Mount Tenabo and to tell the U.S. there must be a full review of the human rights violations of the Shoshone people. We ask for your support in this urgent case which has common elements with indigenous peoples and mining abuses around the world. Thank you for supporting the Western Shoshone Defense Project.

Some important talking points to consider in your Request:

The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (Decision 1/68) has specifically raised concerns regarding the mining threat to Mt. Tenabo. The United States is in further violation of this Decision in approving this project the Obama administration needs to understand this now before taking office.

The Bush administration has strong connections to the mining industry and this decision approving the “Cortez Hills Expansion” before the new administration comes in is highly questionable. President Obama should demonstrate the change he is committed to and respect Western Shoshone spirituality and the need to stop this destructive project and uphold the human rights and Treaty rights. Request that the Obama Team meet immediately with Western Shoshone representatives to investigate further the human rights violations.

Barrick is well-aware of the concerns and the Mt. Tenabo mine proposal has been specifically criticized by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

The details of the mine would:

Of the 11 non-Cortez Gold Mine water rights impacted, only one is expected to recover fully within 100 years after dewatering ceases
Also:

President-elect Barrack Obama Needs to demonstrate his commitment to change and meet with traditional Western Shoshone immediately to investigate the human rights situation.

Type in your info and your request directly to the Transition Team at: http://change.gov/page/s/yourstory

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