Don Yellowman of the Forgotten Navajo People and Charmaine White Face of the Great Sioux Nation describe the effects of abandoned uranium mines on tribal land. Uranium mining by private corporations for purchase by the US Atomic Energy Commission started in earnest after WWII. The miners, many of them Indians, and their families were not protected and they were not informed of the hazards of radiation exposure. Thousands of open mines now sit on land in the Navajo and Great Sioux Nations. They continue to poison the water, land and air causing devastating health effects such as respiratory illnesses, cancers and birth defects. Although the Church Rock uranium spill released a much higher amount of radiation in 1979 than the accident at Three Mile Island, it received little attention and resources. White Face also describes the radiation released in the Great Sioux Nation from the 2,885 uranium mines as four times greater than the radiation released by Fukushima. However, no member of Congress is willing to sponsor legislation to study the ongoing radiation release and clean it up. The radiation released from these pits do not respect borders and affect all of us. It is a secret that we are not supposed to know about. Learn more in this episode of Clearing the FOG.
Relevant articles, websites and videos:
America’s Secret Fukushima Poisoning the Breadbasket of the World by Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese
Are you Oglala or Wasicu? By Charmaine White Face
Don Yellowman speaking at Peabody Coal Protest in St. Louis: VIDEO
Charmaine White Face speaking about Uranium: VIDEO
America’s Chernobyl – Uranium Mining: The Beginning of the Nuclear Chain: VIDEO
Raymond D. Yellowman (Don) serves as President of Forgotten People in the western portion of the Navajo Nation that borders the Grand Canyon. In this standing, he is committed to the tenets of environmental justice, creating awareness of environmental racism in its applications in tribal natural resource extraction and management. And within this, as a traditional Dine’ peacemaker, he advocates the protection of Dine’ cultural/religious liveways, human rights while giving voice to traditional grassroots Navajo people that have been adversely impacted by unsustainable uranium, coal mining practices while actively addressing health disparities in this avenue. Framed within the Bennett Freeze paradigm – a 43 year U. S. government imposed construction hold that encompasses 2 million acres in the Western Agency and Former Joint Use Area (Navajo and Hopi Partition Lands) – this congressional act denied 9 impacted chapters infrastructure, the ability to fix their homes, build new homes, to have access to safe drinking water and a humane quality of life. A peacebuilder and community activist, Don is active in the political arena in terms of balanced and positive community reconstruction grounded in just peace. For example, Don was elected on the Western Navajo District 3 Farm Board for 6 years and as an elected Grazing Official for Bodaway/Gap Chapter for 4 years. Don is a rancher, has livestock and practices traditional Navajo Ways and Ceremonies. Don lives in Tohnaneesdizí (Tuba City, AZ) in the Navajo reservation; he is one of the Sleeping Rock clan, born for the Manygoats clan. Don was born in San Francisco, CA and moved back to the Navajo Nation when he was 4 years old. Don attended Scottsdale Community College (Scottsdale, AZ) and Lubbock Christian College (Lubbock, TX) majoring in Animal Science.
Charmaine White Face or Zumila Wobaga, is an Oglala Tetuwan (Lakota language speaker) from the Oceti Sakowin (Great Sioux Nation) in North America. She is known for her work in support of Native American rights, in particular as coordinator of the Defenders of the Black Hills, a volunteer organization centered around efforts to encourage the United States government to honor the Fort Laramie Treaties of 1851 and 1868. She also works at the international level in support of recognition of human rights of indigenous peoples all over the world. She is the spokesperson for the Teton Sioux Nation Treaty Council. She was a participant in the prayer fast/hunger strike held in December 2004 in Geneva, Switzerland at the final meeting of the Intersessional Working Group on the Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (WGDD). She has worked to preserve Bear Butte, on monitoring of abandoned uranium mines, on “environmental remediation of hazardous waste ponds,”and in the anti-nuclear power movement. In Jan. 2013, she raised concerns about radiation exposure of South Dakota Army National Guard soldiers in the Buffalo Gap National Grassland. Charmaine White Face is also a columnist and freelance writer who has written for Indian Country Today, the Rapid City Journal, the Sioux Falls Argus Leader, and The Lakota Journal, and a grandmother