- Here it is the week end of Thanksgiving. This should be a time for celebrating the abundant bounties of our earth and the blessings we all enjoy. Instead, I received a troubling e-mail this morning from one of my Native friends. It motivated me to write this blog.
- On November 27, 2008, the Western Shoshone gathered in solidarity to oppose the cutting of sacred pinion trees at the spiritual Mount Tenabo in Nevada. The Barrick Gold Company is planning one of the nation’s largest open pit gold mines known as the Cortez Hills Expansion Project on the flank of the mountain. A restraining order has been filed by the tribe and supporters of environmental issues in Reno, NV against the construction of the proposed mine site.
- Unable to wait for the hearing that is scheduled for early next week and the mine's continual slaughter of the pinion forest, the Western Shoshone grandmothers and supporters traveled to the site, demanding Barrick to stop cutting the sacred pinon trees. Barrick Gold employees ignored the Shoshones' demand that they cease cutting. Those gathered witnessed piles of pinion and other trees strewn across the landscape and in the unfenced and now polluted ponds.
- "If people can eat or drink gold to sustain life, maybe we can call it a sacrifice of the life of trees, trees that gives us pine nuts and other medicinal uses," stated Carrie Dann, Western Shoshone grandmother and Executive Director of the Western Shoshone Defense Project.
- The Western Shoshone have lived in the area of Mount Tenabo since the beginning of time. Today it is the homelands to local Shoshones and continues to be the home to Shoshone creation stories, spirit life, medicinal foods and plants as well as a site for spiritual and ceremonial practices. Mount Tenabo is part of the ancestral lands that has been identified and recognized as Western Shoshone territory through the ratification of the Treaty of Ruby Valley between the Western Shoshone and the United States.
- "The mining company and the Bureau of Land Management are trespassing on the Western Shoshone treaty land and are destroying our mountains, trees, food, medicine and leaving dirty polluted water ponds that are wide open making it unsafe to the birds and animals. Why doesn't the mining company go dig up the Vatican or the Mormon Tabernacle instead of Western Shoshone lands? I'm sure they will find gold there, because this is what you are doing to our mountains and trees," stated Mary McCloud, another Western Shoshone grandmother.
- As the Shoshone grandmothers witnessed the devastation on their Sacred Mountain, rain began to fall. "The tears of the Mother," said oneGrandmother.
- We should be careful about what we treasure. I think that Chief Seattle said it best:
man belongs to the Earth.
This we know.
Man did not weave the web of life,
he is merely a strand in it.
Whatever he does to the web,
he does to himself.
All things are connected.
Whatever befalls the Earth,
befalls the children of the Earth."
..............................................................Chief Seattle, 1854
When will it stop? Broken treaties and false promises. What are our values? Is your word not your bond? Is religion and spirituality to be ignored unless it is yours? What do we treasure? Can you eat gold or heal the sick with it? When the land is destroyed, what will we eat? When the water is polluted, what will we drink? What do you treasure? Be careful when you answer this and then protect it with all of your might and give Thanks for it!