[R-G] Diné [Navajo] opposition to uranium continues extremely strong, widespread
hunterbadbear at earthlink.net
Fri Jul 11 07:34:08 MDT 2003
Alliance: Uranium 'threat is real'
By Jim Snyder/The Daily Times Jul 11, 2003, 11:15
Conference to be held July 19 in Shiprock
SHIPROCK - Numerous unanswered questions stand in the way of bringing back
uranium mining to the Navajo Nation, said Perry H. Charley, the director of
the uranium education program at Diné College.
In addition, known severe health risks also stand in the way.
Charley said there were too many unknowns such as: What would the
ramification to groundwater be? What would be done with the contamination?
And what to do with the chemicals used for the uranium-leach mining process?
Uranium education is the focus of an all-day Strengthening Diné Unity
against Uranium Mining conference July 19 at Shiprock High School auxiliary
gymnasium. The conference's objective also includes honoring and healing
Diné elders and families.
Currently, there is a proposal on the table by an outside company to
implement uranium-leach mining in the Crownpoint and/or Church Rock areas.
"The threat is real," said Norman Brown, a Diné Bidzill coalition leader, on
whether uranium mining could resume on the Navajo Nation. At stake is the
well-being of the Navajo people and future generations, he said, as well as
contamination to the land and air.
"We (the grassroot coalition groups) have to push our government in the
right direction," Brown said on Thursday. "The only way we can do that is if
we unite the legislative branch and the executive branch with a massive
The Navajo administration appears to be split however on the issue:
Vice President Frank Dayish Jr. said last spring at a conference in Durango,
Colo., that 40 tons of untapped uranium across the reservation could supply
income to the Navajo Nation provided tribal members approved of the idea.
President Joe Shirley Jr. said, however, that he would oppose any form of
uranium mining on the Navajo Nation. He made his comments to area newspapers
in Gallup and Window Rock, Ariz., after Dayish's statement was published in
The Daily Times.
Dayish's office said more than a month after his comments were published
they were taken out of context.
The decision could eventually end up in the hands of the Navajo Council,
Charley said. The legislative branch, listed as the "governing body" of the
Navajo Nation, has historically and routinely exercised its power and
authority over the president's office.
Charley made his comments at the Shiprock Chapter House, less than 1 mile
from where a 75-acre uranium-tailing mountain was dumped and covered up by
gravel to prevent radiation exposure. The dump, in addition to sick or
deceased miners, is one of the legacies left behind from a half-century of
uranium mining from throughout the Four Corners.
He has been involved in uranium issues for 35 years, including having worked
with former Secretary of the Interior Stuart Udall - the father of U.S. Rep.
Tom Udall, D-N.M. - on the Radiation Compensation Exposure Act of 1990
passed by Congress.
Charley's father was a Navajo uranium miner who spent six years in a coma
before dying of lung cancer. His father was an uranium miner for 27 years.
Charley added health studies needed to be improved. "There are no standards
in the Navajo Nation for radiological exposure ... we have people out there
living in contaminated structures."
Brown said in an earlier interview "We're talking soaring health costs and
lack of environmental standards on Navajo. This is a good step in exercising
our sovereignty. In order to be sovereign we must act sovereign. This is a
sovereign act - to say 'no.'"
Charley and Brown are among more than a dozen featured speakers at the
The Leesoii Dooda conference is also being sponsored by numerous grassroot
coalition groups and organizations including the Diné Bidzill, the Eastern
Navajo Diné Against Uranium Mining and the Diné College Uranium Education
Topics at the conference will include the uranium legacy, the health effects
of uranium and the environmental impacts of uranium. There will also be
testimonials from former uranium miners and miners' widows.
In addition, topics include the uranium impact on Diné land and culture,
support for no uranium from Navajo Council delegates and support for no
uranium from Navajo elected state representatives.
Jim Snyder: jims at d...
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