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2022 Indian Pass Spirit Run Finishes at the Fort Yuma Quechan Reservation. Photo by Earthworks

Indian Pass is located in the desert of Imperial County, California. For the Quechan Tribe, this area is part of a tribal cultural landscape, called Trail of Dreams or Xam Kwatchan Trail Network. This ancient trail network is held sacred because it connects the Quechan people to their place of creation, Avi Kwa Ame (Spirit Mountain Nevada). 

More than 20 years ago, tribal leaders and environmentalists successfully stopped mining at Indian Pass. However, as of 2023, two mining companies are proposing gold exploration projects in this area. 

Today Southern Empire Resources Corp. is proposing to build 8 miles of roads, drill 65 holes down to 800 feet, and use 2,000 gallons of water per day as part of their Oro Cruz exploration project in the Cargo Muchacho Mountains southwest of Indian Pass. The BLM and Imperial County are reviewing comments on a draft Environmental Assessment and Mitigated Negative Declaration, deciding whether or not to approve the project or require more detailed environmental review.

In 2022 the Quechan people successfully stopped KORE mining from drilling for gold at Indian Pass as part of its Imperial Gold project. However, the company says it will continue exploration at the nearby East Mesquite and Ogilby sites, while working on a revised exploration plan for Indian Pass. 

Get involved

Earthworks is working with Quechan community members, tribal organizations and environmental allies to protect the Indian Pass landscape from gold mining.