Peter d'Errico: Western Shoshones fight mining on treaty land

"Gold is important in high-tech products and projects. The Keck Observatory, in Hawai’i, coats its secondary mirror in gold. Computers and other electronic devices require gold. Lawrence Livermore Labs says, “nanostructured gold is a very promising candidate as a catalyst, optic, sensor, energy harvester as well as an energy storer.” And, as you might expect in this crazy world, there are gold toilets.

The problem—and it’s a big one—is that gold mining is dirty, very dirty. The Western Shoshone “No Dirty Gold” campaign aims at drawing attention to the dirty business, as well as to the inequities of mining that eats at their lands while providing others with immense profits. As a measure of the effects, the Western Shoshone point out that it takes ten tons of ore to extract one ounce of gold. Of all gold extracted, 85 percent ends up in jewelry, 5 percent in dentistry, and 10% in industrial uses.

The Western Shoshone have fought for decades to limit mining and to get their share of mining proceeds under the 1863 Treaty of Ruby Valley. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management has run roughshod over Western Shoshone lands, permitting international mining corporations to expand operations, without any input from or compensation to the original inhabitants of the land. Litigation has, to date, not been successful."

Get the Story:
Peter d'Errico: Gold Mining Doesn’t Glitter (Indian Country Today 11/18)

Join the Conversation