Navajo water contamination is more horrific than Flint's. Today in Washington, Indigenous begin protests and events to expose radioactive pollution in Indian country
By Brenda Norrell
copyright Brenda Norrell/Narco News
(Top photo: Louise Benally)
UPDATE: The Navajo Nation's non-Indian water rights attorney is once again giving away Navajo water rights. Navajos are urging the Navajo President to veto a water rights settlement for Utah Navajo water rights, ramrodded through the Navajo Nation Council on Tuesday.
The water contamination on the Navajo Nation is more horrific than in Flint, Michigan. However, the contamination continues because of the racism in the United States which disregards the contamination in Indian country. The collapsed media in Indian country, and the biased mainstream media, fail to expose it.
Today, an Indigenous delegation begins a series of protests and events in Washington D.C. to expose the radioactive pollution in Indian country.
The Navajo Nation's water has been poisoned since the 1950s by uranium mining, then by coal mining, and dirty coal-fired power plants.
Navajo water has long been contaminated by Peabody Coal mining on Black Mesa, uranium spills, strewn radioactive tailing from the Cold War uranium mining, and recently the EPA's poisoning of the Animas and San Juan Rivers.
Further, the US government knew when it relocated Navajos to the Sanders, Arizona, area that radiation from the Church Rock, N.M., uranium spill would poison their water by way of the Rio Puerco wash. In the Four Corners region, three coal fired power plants poison the water in runoffs.
Meanwhile, in south central Arizona, Apaches continue their fight against the copper mine which Arizona Sen. John McCain sneaked into the defense bill. McCain's land giveaway to Resolution Copper would desecrate the Apache ceremonial grounds at Oak Flat. The copper mine would result in an environmental disaster, which includes poisoning the water. McCain has long been a member of the US Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, which reveals the true nature of this committee and its role in the theft of Indian lands, and the poisoning of Indian country by corporate polluters. Apaches welcome all to their march at the end of February.
Beginning today in Washington, Indigenous Peoples will protest and sponsor events to expose the radioactive pollution poisoning Indian country.
Klee Benally of Clean Up the Mines said that from January 25 -- 28, 2016, Indigenous representatives from the Northern Great Plains and Southwest will be in Washington D.C. to raise awareness about radioactive pollution, an invisible national crisis. )
"Millions of people in the United States are being exposed as Nuclear Radiation Victims on a daily basis. Exposure to radioactive pollution has been linked to cancer, genetic defects, Navajo Neuropathy, and increases in mortality. The delegation will speak about the impacts they are experiencing in their communities, which are also affecting other communities throughout the US," Klee Benally said in a statement.
"Native American nations of North America are the miners’ canaries for the United States trying to awaken the people of the world to the dangers of radioactive pollution,” said Charmaine White Face from the South Dakota based organization Defenders of the Black Hills.
South Dakota has 272 Abandoned Uranium Mines (AUMs) which are contaminating waterways such as the Cheyenne River, and desecrating sacred and ceremonial sites. An estimated 169 AUMs are located within 50 miles of Mt. Rushmore where millions of tourists risk exposure to radioactive pollution each year.
The delegation is warning of the toxic legacy caused by more than 15,000 AUMs nationwide, extreme water contamination, surface strip coal mining and power plants burning coal-laced with radioactive particles, radioactive waste from oil well drilling in the Bakken Oil Range, mill tailings, waste storage, and renewed mining threats to sacred places such as Mt. Taylor in New Mexico and Red Butte in Arizona.
Indigenous communities have been disproportionately impacted as approximately 75 percent of AUMs are located on federal and Tribal lands.
"In 2015 the Gold King Mine spill was a wake-up call to address dangers of abandoned mines, but there are currently more than 15,000 toxic uranium mines that remain abandoned throughout the US”, said Ms. White Face. "For more than 50 years, many of these hazardous sites have been contaminating the land, air, water, and national monuments such as Mt. Rushmore and the Grand Canyon. Each one of these thousands of abandoned uranium mines is a potential Gold King mine disaster with the greater added threat of radioactive pollution. For the sake of our health, air, land, and water, we can't let that happen.”
The Clean Up The Mines! campaign is focused on passing the Uranium Exploration and Mining Accountability Act that would ensure clean up of all AUMs. The act was submitted as a draft to Congressman Raúl Grijalva (D–AZ) two years ago but has yet to be introduced to Congress.
Currently, no comprehensive law, regardless of mining era, requires clean-up of all these dangerous abandoned uranium mines allowing corporations and the federal government to walk away without taking responsibility for the continuing harms they have caused.
"With adherence to out-dated, racist policies promoting colonialism, such as the 1872 mining law, Indigenous peoples across the country will continue to be oppressed, and we will continue to demand that our land be returned and restored to its original condition, to that of before the colonization by the United States,” stated Leona Morgan of Diné No Nukes. “The United Nuclear Corporation mill tailings spill of 1979, north of Churchrock, New Mexico left an immense amount of radioactive contamination that down-streamers, today, are currently receiving in their drinking water. A mostly-Navajo community in Sanders, Arizona has been exposed to twice the legal limit allowable for uranium through their tap--this is criminal!" said Morgan.
Diné No Nukes, which is participating in the delegation, is a collective focused on educating the general Navajo population about the issues created by US Atomic Energy Commission, as well as ongoing and new threats from the nuclear industry.
The delegation will hold a protest in front of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Headquarters in opposition to the proposed Clean Power Plan’s irresponsible support for deadly nuclear energy on Tuesday, January 26 at 10am.
The Laguna Acoma Coalition for a Safe Environment (LACSE) and the Multicultural Alliance for a Safe Environment (MASE), and Indigenous World Association (IWA), part of the delegation to Washington, DC, are asking Congress to take measures for cleaning up the estimated 489 abandoned uranium mines in New Mexico.
"These uranium mines cause radioactive contamination, and as a result all the residents in their vicinity are becoming nuclear radiation victims,” states Petuuche Gilbert, a member of the Acoma Nation, LACSE, MASE, and IWA. "New Mexico and the federal government have provided little funding for widespread clean up and only occasionally are old mines remediated. The governments of New Mexico and the United States have a duty to clean up these radioactive mines and mills and, furthermore, to perform health studies to determine the effects of radioactive poisoning. The MASE and LACSE organizations oppose new uranium mining and demand legacy uranium mines to be cleaned up," said Mr. Gilbert.
Regarding the purpose of the trip and the presentations to audiences of all ages, Ms. White Face stated, "We believe that as more Americans become aware of this 'homegrown' radioactive pollution, then something can be done to protect all peoples and the environment."
Northern Great Plains
Charmaine White Face (Oceti Sakowin), Defenders of the Black Hills
Harold One Feather (Oceti Sakowin), Defenders of the Black Hills
JD Buckley (Oceti Sakowin), Defenders of the Black Hills
Tommy Rock (Diné), Diné No Nukes
Leona Morgan (Diné), Diné No Nukes
Petuuche Gilbert (Acoma), Laguna and Acoma Coalition for a Safe Environment & Multicultural Alliance for a Safe Environment, Indigenous World Alliance
Klee Benally (Diné), Clean Up The Mines!, Indigenous Action Media
In other censored news from Indian country, see: "Operation Chaos targeted American Indian Movement."
The FBI's COINTELPRO has been often written about. However, little has been known about the CIA's Operation Chaos which targeted AIM and other movement in the 1960s and 1970s, and focused on activists travels in other countries.
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