When Daranda Hinkey, a 23-year-old member of the Fort McDermitt Paiute and Shoshone Tribe in northern Nevada, gazes across the austere expanse of old growth sagebrush 25 miles southwest of her tribe’s reservation, she doesn’t see Thacker Pass, the future site of America’s largest lithium mine. She sees Peehee Mu’huh, or “rotten moon,” the Paiute name for a place made sacred by the bones of her ancestors.
According to stories told by elders, Peehee Mu’huh got its name many generations ago, when Paiute people were massacred there by members of a warring tribe. Later, a second massacre took place: On September 12, 1865, the 1st Nevada Cavalry snuck into a Paiute camp in the Thacker Pass area before dawn and murdered dozens of men, women, and children in cold blood. This massacre, which is described in government survey documents, contemporaneous news articles, and eyewitness accounts, appears to have had just one adult survivor: Ox Sam, Hinkey’s great-great-great grandfather.
Hinkey is one of the founding members of Atsa Koodakuh wyh Nuwu, or People of the Red Mountain, an organization formed by members and relatives of the Fort McDermitt Tribe who want t... Read more