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Nuclear Environmental Justice in Arizona and Beyond

Tags: United States , Indigenous People , Nuclear Energy , Environment

Richards, Linda

August 29, 2011

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Linda Richards, a Sylff fellow at Oregon State University, has been addressing the issue of nuclear environmental justice and experimenting with conflict resolution for over 25 years. In April she organized a workshop in Arizona to address environmental justice for the Diné—the Navajo in their own language—whose habitats have been contaminated by uranium mining for decades. This was the first of two rounds of workshops supported by the Tokyo Foundation’s SLI project, for which she has partnered with another Sylff fellow, Shangrila Wynn of the University of Oregon. This article presents the highlights of the April workshop.

 

The workshop began with a documentary film, The Return of Navajo Boy directed by Jeff Spitz, highlighting the problem of uranium contamination in the Navajo Nation. A panel discussion of Diné elders, Spitz, and other experts followed.

The film contains many painful scenes in documenting the life of Navajo elder Elsie Mae Cly Begay, from the early cancer death of her mother and two sons to the day her traditional Native American home, a Hogan, was torn down and removed as radioactive waste by government workers. The documentary film explains that more than a quarter of the supply of American uranium was mined from the Navajo Nation, where 20% of Native Americans live in one of the poorest communities in the country. The Navajos were once studied for their low incidence of cancer, but rates of cancer have risen to among . . .

Read more at the Sylff.org website.

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