(NaturalNews) Andrew Jackson (the US President on the $20 bill) signed the “Indian Removal Act” into law in 1830. Consequentially, over 125,000 Native Americans were forced off their properties in the East and relocated to “Indian territories” across the Mississippi River to the West. The federal government was making way for white people to inherit the native land so they could expand their cotton farming operations. As the Native Americans were forced to travel west, several thousand passed away on what became known as the Trail of Tears.
To this day, the federal government still treats Native Americans as a lesser race, expendable and at the mercy of the industries that exploit and pollute their land and water.
In Flint, Michigan, polluted drinking water has become a big deal, and thankfully attention is being drawn to the nightmare of lead poisoning that is causing permanent brain damage in children throughout the city.
However, Native American communities throughout the Western US have been fighting the same kind of problems for decades. The Navajo communities in particular are constantly being poisoned through the water supply as the byproducts of old uranium mines leech into their water sources. Reporter Brenda Norrell testifies that the situation in the Navajo nation is “more horrific than in Flint, Michigan,” and has been going on for far too long.
The nuclear industry took off in the 1950s after the creation of the atomic bomb. Uranium mining boomed in the ’50s, leaving behind 15,000 abandoned uranium mines today. Countless abandoned mines, for uranium, gold and other minerals, now dot the Navajo Nation, and they continue to contaminate the water supply. When the EPA addressed one of the mines in 2015 – the Gold King Mine – they recklessly unleashed tons of toxic sludge into the Animas and San Juan rivers.
Charmaine White Face, representing South Dakota-based organization Defenders of the Black Hills, said:
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. 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.
When the uranium mining operations are complete, and after resources are exploited, corporations can just walk away, leaving a toxic waste site in their wake. To the demise of the Native Americans, 75 percent of these now abandoned uranium mines sit on tribal lands.
Arizona Senator John McCain pushed a resolution through a recent US defense bill, stripping the Apache of their land and giving it to a company called Resolution Copper. The new copper mining operations would not only desecrate ceremonial grounds at Oak Flat but also poison the Apache water supply with byproducts from the mine.
Leona Morgan of Dine NO NUKES says, “A mostly-Navajo community in Sanders, Arizona has been exposed to twice the legal limit allowable for uranium through their tap.”
Dine NO NUKES sends their protests all the way to Washington, D.C., to bring attention to contamination of water supplies in the West, but the group gets no mainstream media attention.
Petuuche Gilbert of the Laguna Acoma Coalition for a Safe Environment, the Multicultural Alliance for a Safe Environment and Indigenous World Association, says:
These uranium mines cause radioactive contamination, and as a result all the residents in their vicinity are becoming nuclear radiation victims. 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.
Written by L.J. Devon
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