Voices From the Tribes: Paiute, Shoshone Elders’ Perspectives on Nevada Lithium Mine Proposal

by Claire Carlson, June 7, 2021 for Native News Online

The Fort McDermitt Indian Reservation is located in north-central Nevada near the Oregon border. For centuries, the area has been used by Paiute and Shoshone people for gathering and hunting. Now, with a lithium mining proposal for Thacker Pass, a region just south of Fort McDermitt, tribal members are worried about how this mine will impact the land.

Thacker Pass holds an important history for the tribe. According to tribal elders, the area contains burial sites from a massacre against Paiute and Shoshone people when the land was being settled by white soldiers centuries ago.

This history is not lost on elders like Elvida Crutcher, who has lived at the Fort McDermitt Reservation her whole life. Because Thacker Pass is a burial ground for her ancestors, Crutcher’s visits to the area often feel spiritually significant.

Thacker Pass also provides habitat for many plants and animals. According to Great Basin Resource Watch, a conservation organization in Nevada, Thacker Pass is designated in several federal environmental plans as a “Priority Habitat” for the greater sage grouse. It also functions as a habitat corridor for pronghorn antelope. Some of the nearby springs are the only known location for the Kings River pyrg, a type of springsnail.

READ MORE and LISTEN to interviews with elders Elvida Crutcher and Inelda Sam at Native News Online.