By Jackie Chiakulas, Fellow
I arrived in Reno from Las Vegas early Saturday morning, then took about an hour bus ride from Reno to Yerington, Nevada. The bus ride was narrated by Norm Harry, a member of the Pyramid Lake Tribe who knew the surrounding land and water streams like the back of his hand.
Once we arrived in Yerington, we were lead in a native song and prayer by Yerington Paiute Tribe member Rosemary De-Soto and Norm Harry. It was a beautiful introduction to their culture, and start to learning about the Anaconda mine and how it affects their livelihood. In a theatre of about 50 people from all different backgrounds, it was clear that this was a message that needed to be heard. We then headed out to visit the Anaconda mine. We started down at the bottom of the pit lake, then made our way up to the top, where there was a viewing ledge. There we heard Rosemary De-Soto speak on how their waters are poisoned, how wildlife has adapted to avoiding this unnatural formation of water and rock. From there, we ended our tour on the side of a nearby road where we could see the yellow, sulfuric pads used in mining.
On the bus ride back to Reno, we all joined in sharing our thoughts and reflections from the tour. There was an overall feeling of gratitude and determination to take action locally. It was such an eye opening experience, and one that will stick with me in my environmental justice work. The stories, the cultural implications, the way that we all decide to interact with one another and our surroundings were all lessons that were learned during our day out at the mine tour.