Nevada has a long history as a mining state, but the impacts of extracting gold, silver, and other metals have not been equal for everyone. A new historical exhibit at the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony highlights the impacts of mining on Native people.

“What has brought wealth and job opportunities for some, has often meant the destruction of sacred sites and harm to the living culture of Native people,” says Michon R. Eben, the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer at the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony. “This exhibit is about the wounds we have suffered and also about our resilience in the face of colonization in all its forms.”

Eben and RSIC THPO staff developed the exhibit, which opens November 8th in celebration of Native American Heritage Month, and is titled “Wounded Souls: Extracting from the Land and Our Spirits.” It includes historic mining equipment, artefacts produced from the Comstock Lode, historical documents and information about the 1872 Mining Law, oral histories of the impacts of archeology and mining on native culture, and an exhibit on Mary and Carrie Dann’s 30-year struggle for Western Shoshone sovereignty and to protect sacred Mount Tenabo.

The Reno-Sparks Indian Colony is no stranger to the impacts of mining. The Tribe’s Hungry Valley land base was threatened by a mining operation for kitty litter in the 1990’s, but the Tribe and other Reno-area groups organized and successfully halted the project.

More recently, the Tribe has taken a stand alongside the Burns Paiute Tribe, Summit Lake Paiute Tribe, Winnemucca Indian Colony, and other allies for Thacker Pass, known as “Peehee Mu’huh” in Paiute, a sacred and culturally important site where a Canadian company plans to build an open-pit lithium mine.

Reno-Sparks is a plaintiff in a Federal Court Case for which final oral arguments will take place on January 5th.

A section of the “Wounded Souls” exhibit is dedicated to the ongoing fight at Thacker Pass.
“Wounded Souls” was developed in collaboration with the W. M. Keck Earth Science and Mineral Engineering Museum at University of Nevada Reno, runs through March 8th, and is free to the public.

Viewing hours are Monday to Friday from 11 a.m. to 6 pm and some Saturdays from 11am to 3pm. Please call (775) 785-1326 before your visit to ensure staff will be on-site.

“Wounded Souls: Extracting from the Land and Our Spirits” Runs from November 8th – March 8, 2023


Photo by Little Buck Harjo: Western Mining Action Network Conference Attendees visit “Wounded Souls” Exhibit at 1995 East 2nd Street, Reno, NV 89502