Winnemucca Colony joins Thacker Pass lawsuit

Winnemucca Colony joins Thacker Pass lawsuit
Tribal leaders argue BLM failed to consult all tribes who attach religious and cultural significance to Thacker Pass, sidestepping “meaningful government-to-government consultation with all of the tribes that are connected to Thacker Pass.” (Photo: Max Wilbert)

RENO–A third Native American Tribe has joined the lawsuit against the Bureau of Land Management alleging the Lithium Americas Corporation planned lithium mine at Thacker Pass would desecrate sacred lands.

Winnemucca Indian Colony on Feb. 11 filed a motion to intervene in the lawsuits, joining the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony and the “People of Red Mountain”—a Northern Paiute group called Atsa Koodakuh wyh Nuwu.

In an earlier ruling in case, U.S. District Judge Miranda Du would not consider whether the BLM had properly consulted with the Winnemucca Colony on the Thacker Pass mine because they were not a part to the lawsuit.

The tribes allege that in addition to the land where the proposed mine would be located being sacred, federal agencies including the Bureau of Land Management failed to properly consult the Tribes before granting approval for the project.

In its filing, the Winnemucca Tribal members said that “to build that Thacker Pass lithium mine on lands help sacred to Colony members would be like raping the earth and their culture.”

Will Falk, an attorney for the RSIC, argues that the Winnemucca Colony’s intervention in the lawsuit is further evidence the BLM didn’t properly consult with Tribes before allowing the mine to proceed. Falk says the BLM has lied about the extent of its consultation with Tribes and failed to review records.

“It’s simple: the federal government failed in its legally binding duty to consult with tribes before approving this project, then lied about it,” Falk said.

The Tribes have failed in court several times already in stopping preliminary work at the mine site, including excavation for archeological surveys. In early November 2021 Judge Du called Tribal claims about the land “too speculative” and said evidence presented “does not definitely establish that a massacre occurred” at the site.