• April 24th, 2024
  • Wednesday, 07:21:01 PM

Police Raid at Thacker Pass Camps


Chase Iron Eyes


I remain on the sacred grounds at Peehee Mu’huh, where the resistance to protect Thacker Pass (Nevada) from a massive lithium mine suffered a major blow last week. On Wednesday, police raided the two prayer camps set up by our Paiute and Shoshone relatives, extinguishing the sacred fire lit since May 11 when the grandmother-led action began, destroying the two ceremonial tipi lodges, mishandling and confiscating ceremonial instruments, and arresting an Indigenous land protector. Ox Sam Camp shared a video they captured with us. Please watch how it went down on our Facebook page.



During breakfast, law enforcement arrived. Almost immediately and without warning, a young Diné (Navajo) water protector was singled out by Lithium Nevada security and arrested. Even as two non-Natives were allowed to “move” in order to avoid arrest, the Diné woman was quickly handcuffed and subsequently loaded into a sheriff’s SUV for transport to Winnemucca for processing.


While on the highway, she says — again without warning or explanation — she was transferred into a windowless, pitch-black holding box in the back of a pickup truck. “I was really scared for my life,” she told Ox Sam Camp. “I didn’t know where I was or where I was going. I know that [the epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women] is a real thing, and I didn’t want to be the next one.” She was eventually transported to Humboldt County Jail, where she was charged with criminal trespass and resisting arrest, then released on bail. Again, I urge you to watch the video. Resisting arrest? I don’t think so.


Just hours before the raid, Ox Sam camp’s water protectors bravely stood in the way of large excavation equipment, shutting down construction at the base of Sentinel Rock for the second time that week. To many Paiute and Shoshone People, Sentinel Rock is a “center of the universe.” It’s been a site to gather traditional medicines, tools, and food supply for thousands of years, integral to many Nevada tribes’ way of life.


It’s clear that Lithium Nevada and law enforcement are now doing all they can to stifle this resistance before it can grow.


On Wednesday, at least five Sheriff’s vehicles, several Lithium Nevada work vehicles, and two security trucks arrived at the original tipi site containing the ceremonial fire. After the arrest and once the main camp was secured, law enforcement moved to dismantle the tipi site at Sentinel Rock, a mile away. There is a proper way to take down a tipi and ceremonial camp, and then there’s the way Humboldt County Sheriffs proceeded on behalf of Lithium Nevada Corporation. They knocked down tipis, snapped tipi poles, and rummaged through, mishandled, and impounded ceremonial objects and instruments. They approached and secured tents in classic SWAT-raid fashion.


As we mentioned to you previously, Peehee Mu-huh is the site of two massacres of Paiute and Shoshone people. The remains of the massacred ancestors have remained unidentified and unburied since 1865. They are now being bulldozed and crushed by Lithium Nevada without consent or permission from the area’s Indigenous Peoples.


It’s clear that Lithium Nevada and law enforcement are now doing all they can to stifle this resistance before it can grow. Our videographer, Chuck, was one of several people served with restraining orders over the past several weeks, and we’re hearing threats of further legal action designed to stop continued media coverage of the events now unfolding. Ox Sam Camp has put out a call for legal defense assistance. If you can help, contact them through their website. And please stay tuned for further developments and potential action opportunities.


Wopila tanka — thank you for standing with water and land protectors!


Chase Iron Eyes is Co-Director and Lead Counsel with The Lakota People’s Law Project.