Wind turbines of the Hatchet Ridge Wind Farm on Hatchet Mountain.

Sacred Sites: California's Medicine Lake Highlands and Hatchet Mountain

ICTMN Staff
6/20/12

Geothermal and wind are forms of the renewable energy that, to many concerned people of Turtle Island, will be integral to any sort of solution to the ongoing energy crisis the planet faces.

Geothermal and wind power are good, right?

You might hear a different reaction if you broach the subjects with members of the Pit River, Modoc, Shasta, Karuk, Wintu and other Tribes who hold sacred the region northeast of Mount Shasta, in California. That's because one project there, a geothermal power plant, threatens to alter the landscape of the Medicine Lake Highlands. And another project, the Hatched Ridge Wind Company, has already affected the Hatchet and Bunchgrass Mountains.

These sites are among those being prayed for during the Morning Star Institute's National Sacred Places Prayer Days. Numerous tribes use the area as a training ground for medicine people. Additionally, the Pit River tribe believes that the Creator and his son bathed in Medicine Lake after they created the earth, and the Creator imparted his spirit to the waters.

The Medicine Lake Highlands have been a contested area for over two decades. Calpine Corporation, the planet's largest provider of geothermal energy, has held geothermal development leases on land in the Highlands since 1988, although the leases and extensions thereof have been voided by the Ninth Circuit Court twice. But the legal battles go on. The most recent judgment of the Ninth Circuit Court, in 2010, was that the leases from 1988 remain valid, but that the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management must do a new Environmental Impact Study.

Meanwhile, on nearby Hatchet Mountain, Hatchet Ridge Wind Company has built 44 wind turbines on land sacred to the Pit River Nation. Nearby Bunchgrass Mountain is used for vision quests. Though construction has been completed, the Pit River Nation feels the turbines and other structures are in violation of federal law, and continues to protest.

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