On the 28th of January, members of several Native American nations showed up outside the headquarters of the EPA to demand that thousands of abandoned uranium mines be cleaned up.The mines are leaking uranium into water depended on by the tribes, causing cancer and many early deaths. One government offical was reported to have the nerve to blame the illnesses on “drinking” leaving out the fact that that drinking the WATER is what is causing cancer.
Just in case the EPA refuses to do anything about the poisoned water, tribal members are demanding that Congress amend the Clean Water Act to include radionuclides (radioactive materials) so as to force the EPA to act. The EPA is known for ignoring water poisoned by mining or other extractive activity. A few years ago, someone from Dimmick, PA showed up outside the EPA with yellow-green water from his well, challenging the EPA to drink it. While government officials were claiming back home this water was safe to drink, Metro police set up a bag search checkpoint at the Metro station to ensure none of this uranium-contaminated water got into the Metro system!
Mining has caused confrontations and even all-out warfare between Native Americans and the US government before. Red Cloud led the Lakota to an initial victory over the US military to stop gold mining in the Black Hills. The later harassment that led to the defeat of the 7th Cavalry at the Battle of Greasy Grass (Little Bighorn) came about because gold miners had again set their sights on the Black Hills. Now its uranium mines, which like modern gold mines are toxic but even more so.
The EPA did not pay for the water tests that found uranium contaimination in water near so many reservations, tribal members did. Now some have the nerve to demand that tribal members pay to clean up the mess they did not make, a mess that the US government made so they could have nuclear weapons and nuclear reactors.
With Indigneous people seeing first hand how mining and milling uranium are killing people, many of them are now demanding the whole nuclear “fuel cycle” be abolished. From the mines that poison Indigenous children, to the mills that add more radioactive pollution, to the nuclear bombs of Hiroshima and power plants of Chernobyl and Fukashima, to the nuclear waste dumps, all of it has to go.
One of the last speakers (also last on the video) suggested dumping all the nuclear, oil, and gas crap that is poisoning Native Americans “right on Congress’s doorstep” to roars from the crowd.