Thacker Pass


Thacker Pass is in Humboldt County, Nevada. It was formed 16 mil + years ago, is traditional and unceded territory of the Paiute and Shoshone people. Now it is also the proposed site for a massive lithium mine that would destroy the area and valuable habitat for the creatures who live there.

The Atsa koodakuh wyh Nuwu (the People of Red Mountain) and native and non-native allies, oppose Lithium Nevada Corp’s proposed Thacker Pass open pit lithium mine. This mine will harm the Fort McDermitt Paiute-Shoshone Tribe and their traditional land, including significant cultural sites, water, air, and wildlife including greater sage grouse, Lahontan cutthroat trout, pronghorn antelope, and sacred golden eagles. 

Thacker Pass is sacred to the Fort McDermitt Paiute-Shoshone Tribe. Thacker Pass is a spiritually powerful place blessed by the presence of ancestors, other spirits, and golden eagles – who are considered to be directly connected to the Creator. Thacker Pass is essential to the survival of Paiute-Shoshone traditions, which are tied to the land. Thacker Pass is home to many of traditional foods, hunting, and traditional medicines. When the land is destroyed, the traditions are destroyed. 

The traditional Paiute name of Thacker Pass is Pee-hee-mm-huh meaning “rotten moon.” The name comes from when many Paiute-Shoshone were massacred at Thacker Pass and their relatives found their bodies unburied, rotting, and with their entrails spread across the sage brush in a part of the Pass shaped like a moon. To build a lithium mine over this massacre site in Peehee mu’huh would be like building a lithium mine over Pearl Harbor or Arlington National Cemetery. 

Thacker Pass is also historically significant to the Fort McDermitt Paiute-Shoshone Tribe. When American soldiers were rounding up native people to force them on to reservations, many Paiute-Shoshone people hid in Thacker Pass. The Fort McDermitt tribe descends from essentially two families who, hiding in Thacker Pass, managed to avoid being sent to reservations farther away from their ancestral lands. It could be said, then, that the Fort McDermitt tribe might not be here if it wasn’t for the shelter provided by Thacker Pass.

Lithium Nevada Corp. proposes to build an open pit lithium mine that begins with a project area of 17,933 acres. When the Mine is fully-operational, it would use 5,200 acre-feet per year (equivalent to an average pumping rate of 3,224 gallons per minute) in one of the driest regions in the nation; and it is estimated that the mine will produce 152,703 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions every year. Fighting climate change, however, cannot be used as yet another excuse to destroy native land. We cannot protect the environment by destroying it. In addition, there is the likelihood that “man camps” will form to supply labor force for the mine, and that the mine will strain community infrastructure, such as law enforcement and human services. This will lead to an increase in hard drugs, violence, rape, sexual assault, and human trafficking. The connection between man camps and missing and murdered indigenous women is well-established.