Friday, January 31, 2014

7 years and counting, minutes or millirems???

The following slideshow I made seven years ago. When I look at it, I keep thinking of the people I've met since I started this journey in 1994.

Over the years I've discovered that when I bring up uranium mining with people, especially the environmentalists, and more specifically, several of the major anti-nuclear groups, the usual reply is "Aren't they taking care of that issue in Navajo country? What? You're saying that this is happening in South Dakota? What? Committing acts of genocide against your family, the Hunkpapa? Doesn't the government know? Reclaiming the mine? How come we never heard of this issue?" Then to add insult to injury, many of these "environmental/anti-nuclear" groupies say they care but when I bring up that we don't want to be your "poor, pitiful Indian" campaign fund raising, they back away. I guess having absolutely no respect at all gives them that right to go their own way. Good riddance, I think afterwards, feeling that we are better off without that paternalistic, internalized racist mentality, you know the kind, like to shake their fists at whatever they feel they can control, not realizing that hostility only brings more hostility and usually just makes things worse.

A little while ago, I attended many meetings with the US Forest Service over the Riley Pass abandoned uranium mine. They spent millions of dollars trying to prove that downstream communities are not at risk from the mine. They even have a very informative website showing their arguments. But don't fall for their cherry picking. They tried their hardest to cover up the mine as well as the blindingly obvious: they never examined the mine's uraniferous lignite's reaction to rainwater. Unfortunately, knowing that the US Forest Service would rather pay more attention to trees and not to mining impacts, I read much of the materials from US EPA on TENORM (Technologically-Enhanced, Naturally-Occurring Radioactive Materials) which say that low pH water mixes very well with uraniferous lignite and means that the solution can travel very far until it reaches less acidic water where it separates from solution and solidifies. Several millions of dollars of cherry picking, all to protect itself from any liability and from its own ignorance.

That doesn't mean a thing, that doesn't matter. I stand up for my relatives, I am not scared, I don't lie, I don't make light of this tragedy, I know the truth. Over the years several people tried to get me to lie for them, to say that they've been working on this issue with me for years, I tell them I can't do that, sorry. I've had groups say they'll help, and I ask, doing what? We'll give you publicity? No thanks, we are already oppressed and we'd rather have something more substantive than your pity. I have had groups say we'll help but you have to sign secrecy agreements, no thanks, I don't involve myself in secret failures where backstabbing and infighting always result.

7 years and counting...and twenty years of my life

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