Navajo farmers vote not to irrigate with contaminated river water

The scorched earth campaign of the US EPA's gold mine spill is devastating for Navajo farmers, the latest travesty in the Four Corners, where Cold War uranium mining and coal-fired power plants have left a trail of death for Navajos

By Brenda Norrell

Photo Duane 'Chili' Yazzie

SHIPROCK, N.M. -- Navajo farmers at Shiprock made the heart-wrenching decision not to irrigate crops this season with the San Juan River water now contaminated with heavy metals from the Animas River Gold King mine spill, which the US EPA was responsible for.

Duane 'Chili' Yazzie said, "The Shiprock Chapter of the Navajo Nation voted 104 to 0 not to turn river water back into our irrigation system for this season. It was one of the hardest decisions we have ever had to make.

"It was difficult to watch farmers make the heart wrenching decision they know will assure the loss of much of our crops; crops that they are attached to, that they nurtured, cared for and sang to. Through our tears we ask for forgiveness from our corn and our crop family," Yazzie said.

"It was a sacrifice to make sure that we not contaminate our irrigation system and our farmlands. We said we will not risk the quality of our crops into the future. It was a decision that said we want to leave a clean land for our grandchildren.

"Our prayer is for our river, the Earth Mother to heal.

"We stand as proud and resilient Diné, we will persevere, we shall survive," Yazzie said.

The heart-wrenching vote comes after Shiprock farmers found oil contamination in the water that arrived in the tanks from the US EPA after the spill. The US EPA sent water by way of an oil and fracking company and the tanks were contaminated with oil.

Even before the oil contaminated water arrived from the US EPA, the US EPA began a dirty tricks campaign, attempting to get Navajos to sign waivers which would limit the EPA's responsibility for the river spill.

Shiprock is in the heart of the Four Corners where coal-fired power plants have already poisoned the air, water and land.

Further, the Cold War uranium mining in the area left a trail of deaths from uranium mining because Navajo uranium miners were sent to their deaths without protective clothing in the uranium mines, even after the US knew that it would kill them.

The radioactive dust poisoned food, crops and livestock grazing areas. Even in recent years, homes in the area, including Red Valley and Cove, where built using radioactive rocks, as revealed by Geiger counters. Still today, radioactive rocks remain scattered in the Shiprock region because of the failed cleanup.

The poisoning of the Animas River and San Juan River by the US EPA is the latest in this travesty of a scorched earth campaign carried out here.

The Four Corners coal-fired power plants, some of the dirtiest in the world, have resulted in this becoming a sacrifice zone, with respiratory diseases and cancer in this trail of death.

Read more at Censored News www.bsnorrell.blogspot.com

For permission to republish this article: brendanorrell@gmail.com

About Brenda Norrell

Brenda Norrell has been a news reporter in Indian country for 34 years. She is publisher of Censored News, focusing on Indigenous Peoples, human rights and the US border. Censored News was created after Norrell was censored, then terminated, by Indian Country Today after serving as a longtime staff reporter. Now censored by the mainstream media, she previously was a staff reporter at numerous American Indian newspapers and a stringer for AP, USA Today and others. She lived on the Navajo Nation for 18 years, and then traveled with the Zapatistas. She covered the climate summits in Cochabamba, Bolivia, and Cancun, Mexico, in 2010.

User login

Navigation

About Brenda Norrell

Personal Website
http://www.bsnorrell.blogspot.com/

Biography

Brenda Norrell has been a news reporter in Indian country for 34 years. She is publisher of Censored News, focusing on Indigenous Peoples, human rights and the US border. Censored News was created after Norrell was censored, then terminated, by Indian Country Today after serving as a longtime staff reporter. Now censored by the mainstream media, she previously was a staff reporter at numerous American Indian newspapers and a stringer for AP, USA Today and others. She lived on the Navajo Nation for 18 years, and then traveled with the Zapatistas. She covered the climate summits in Cochabamba, Bolivia, and Cancun, Mexico, in 2010.