Tribes: New evidence shows a massacre took place at the Nevada mine


Tribal attorneys are calling on a U.S. judge in Nevada to reconsider their previous refusal to block the digging of a proposed lithium mine near the Oregon Line, where newly discovered evidence proves it is the sacred site of a massacre of dozens of Indians acted in 1865.

The new petition, filed with the Reno federal court, includes an 1865 newspaper report and two eyewitness accounts of how at least 31 Paiute men, women and children were “murdered” by federal soldiers at Thacker Pass.

The reports were included in an autobiography first published in 1929 by a prominent American union organizer, Bill Haywood. One was from a cavalry volunteer who participated in the slaughter and the other from a tribe member who survived it.

The construction of the Nevada Lithium Corp. is scheduled to begin early next year in the country’s largest lithium mine and the world’s largest open-pit lithium mine.

Lithium is a key component in the battery of electric vehicles. The demand for the mineral is expected to triple over the next five years.

The only major lithium mine currently operating in the United States is in Nevada. Another plan made halfway between Reno and Las Vegas by Ioneer Ltd. is also facing legal challenges from environmentalists fighting to protect a rare desert wildflower that the Fish and Wildlife Service officially proposed as an endangered species last week.

Related: Richter says digging can continue at the lithium mine site near the Oregon border

Judge Miranda Du says she will hold a full evidence hearing on the merits of the case before construction begins about 230 miles northeast of Reno.

But in recent months, it has turned down requests from environmentalists and tribes to prevent the Bureau of Land Management in the meantime from digging trenches for an archaeological study, which Lithium Nevada must have completed before moving any further.

The tribes maintain 1,000 cultural resources there and 57 properties can be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. They say the office has failed federal requirements and is formally consulting the tribes government-to-government about preparing a historic land plan.

The tribes said in the Friday Court filing that the new evidence warrants a re-examination after Judge Du on September 6 ruled the government field notes from 1868 they filed in their earlier injunction “show.” Don’t you think there was a massacre within the project ”. Area.”

Lawyers for the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony and the Burns Paiute Tribe of Oregon said:

“The proximity of the Indian shelters in the project area, combined with the oral records of the intervening plaintiffs describing how Paiute people who were hunted by the US cavalry hid in the Thacker Pass, and especially the new reports of the massacre, do it very likely that the massacre of September 12, 1865 happened, at least partially, within the project area. “

A satellite image from Google Earth shows the location of Thacker Pass in the McDermitt Caldera, which stretches from southeast Oregon to northern Nevada.

Google Earth / screenshot

Bureau spokesmen and Nevada Lithium said Tuesday they had no immediate comment.

The Owyhee Avalanche article, cited in the September 30, 1865 issue under the heading “Indian Fight in Queen River Valley,” states that Capt. Payne and Lt. Littlefield of the 1st Nevada Cavalry with 19 volunteers along Willow Creek in the area camped near Thacker Pass.

“An attack was ordered and every officer and man brought scalps and fought for three hours against the devils scattered over several miles of ground, killing all who could be found,” the story says.

The article said the troops found 31 dead and stated that “more must have been killed (sic) and died of their wounds because no rigorous search was carried out and the area of ​​the battlefield was so large”.

Haywood wrote in “The Autobiography of Big Bill Haywood” that the “story of the massacre of the Piute (sic) Indians at Thacker Pass” was first told to him by Jim Sackett, “one of the volunteers involved in the killing”. and Ox Sam, “a Piute (sic) who made his escape, one of the only three survivors.”

Haywood wrote that Sackett told him that the Paiutes, including “squaws and young children,” slept and “shot down before they came to their senses” in “wickiups” – small huts also known as wigwams.

“We poured our balls from one Wickiup to the next.”

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