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News Release

Protect Medicine Lake

On Tuesday May 14, 2019 a federal appeals court will hear arguments in a legal battle to protect the sacred Medicine Lake Highlands from threats of geothermal desecration. The Medicine Lake Highlands are held sacred by the Pit River Nation as well as many other Tribal Nations which include but is not limited to the Wintu, Karuk, Shasta, Klamath, Yana, and Modoc peoples.

From time immemorial, Indigenous people have made pilgrimages to the Highlands for healing, religious ceremony, and tribal gatherings. However, for more than 25 years, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has attempted to desecrate and destroy this precious place of deep religious significance, with five proposed geothermal power projects increasing the extraction to a total of 500 megawatts. At issue are 26 geothermal leases, originally executed by BLM in the 1980s with only cursory environmental review and no tribal consultation. However, the federal government entities wish to move forward in appealing the last federal 9th Circuit Court decision in which the decision favored the Tribe and the other Plaintiffs.

The President's Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (“ACHP”) has explained, “multiple lines of evidence substantiate the historic and continuing value of the Medicine Lake area and the volcanic caldera it rests in to [the Pit River Tribe and other] Indigenous Peoples in maintaining their traditional cultural integrity.

If approved, industrial-scale geothermal development would desecrate the Medicine Lake Highlands, threaten the underlying aquifer and result in the injection of toxins into the atmosphere and waters. It would have devastating impacts on deeply-held religious views and practices, traditional cultural values, pristine environmental resources, and rare opportunities for safe and responsible recreation. This includes the peaceful enjoyment of this most Sacred of places.

“The Bureau of Land Management's mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. If BLM followed their mission, they would not continue to use United States government resources to support corporate interests over that of the public they claim to serve. And by doing so, putting our public health and safety at risk and destroying these lands so future generations will not be able to enjoy them. No new leases in the Medicine Lake Highlands!”

Pit River Tribal Chairwoman Agnes Gonzalez.

“Medicine Lake is our church. It is there we heal our bodies and our spirits."

Cecelia Silvas, Ilmawi Band Elder

“Our sacred lands are all that remain keeping us connected to our place on Mother Earth, to our spirituality, our heritage and our lands; what's left of them. If they take it all away, what will remain except a vague memory of a past so forgotten?”

Bill George Atsugewi Band Elder

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“When creating the world, when it was moist, the maker of life stopped here to rest and drink and wash and imparted himself in the water. That’s why we respect this place deep in our heart,”

The Late Willard Rhodes, Itsatawi Tribal Council Member, Cultural Representative and Elder


What: Federal Appeals Court hearing. Prayer Vigil & rally, press conference immediately following hearing.

Who: Pit River Tribe, Native Coalition for Medicine Lake Highlands Defense, Mount Shasta Bioregional Ecology Center, Save Medicine Lake Coalition, Medicine Lake Citizens for Quality Environment, Plaintiffs-Appellants; vs. US Bureau of Land Management.

When: Tuesday May 14, 2019

8 a.m. Prayer Vigil & gathering at


1010 Fifth Avenue,

Seattle, WA 98104

All are welcome & encouraged to attend.