Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Walking for Peace and Nuclear Abolition (Uranium Mining out West)

Comment:  The nuke cycle of death:  starts with uranium mining!  No to uranium mining!

May 18, 2010
by Arn Specter

During the last few months at least four groups of activists have organized and marched hundreds of miles from Tennessee, Washington, DC, Western New York and the New England States onwards to New York City and the NPT rally and march prior to the International NPT Conference on May 3,2010 , now in its third week at the United Nations.

Here is a story of another March, back in 2002 out West, in Native American territory where uranium mining by US companies has desecrated the lands and harmed hundreds of native Americans and their families. This isa story of bravery and committment, those souls who would not stand by and just watch or become victims of the US nuclear industry's craving for more profit making in an extremely dangerous mining operation across a number of States in the western United States.

The story is written by Ethan Genauer, who at the young age of 22 joined and walked the 650 miles along with his fellow activists...

andrecently led marches in Philadelphia and onwards with a devoted group through New Jersey and into New York City, for the rally and march in times Square onwards to the United Nations priorto the NPT Conference...
Walking the Road of Nuclear Resistance

Published in Earth First! Journal, Autumn 2002

by Ethan Genauer is a grassroots activist for the Earth and human rights who journeyed with the Family Spirit Walk from Gallup, New Mexico to the Nevada Test Site.

Good morning, relatives.

I give thanks once again for this new day. I ask that the ancestors of this land be with us today and bless us with permission to pass through in a good way.

I pray for the healing of the abuse and neglect that this land has suffered. I pray for all the people who have been damaged by the terrible nuclear cycle, for the uranium miners and their families, for the people living downwind.

 I pray for all those whose communities are dumped on and who are faced with sickness and death due to radiation and contamination. I pray for the natives of this land who are still strong despite centuries of genocide and colonization, for the soldiers whose lives are endangered every day and for the military scientists who created and perpetuate this nightmare. I ask that our prayers and actions today open their eyes and change their hearts in a good way. I pray for the healing of this land, and I have a song "

With words of prayer like these, shared quietly around a sacred fire in the desert chill just before dawn, 30 activists from around the world began each day of our 800-mile Family Spirit Walk. Guided by natives of the land, through four states and the sovereign territory of nearly a dozen indigenous nations, our family of walkers sought to raise awareness of the perils of nuclear radiation. We acted to encourage the healing of the land and to put an end to the industrial and military practices that Native American activists and writers Winona LaDuke and Ward Churchill have called "radioactive colonialism".

Our walk, sponsored by the Las Vegas-based Shundahai Network, began on native land in New Mexico beside the Los Alamos National Laboratory, the scientific factory that produced the first atomic bomb. Taking up land indigenous to the Tewa people from the Santa Clara and San Ildefonso pueblos, the laboratory cuts off the Tewa from their traditional shrines, which are fenced off or contaminated, and produces radiation that contaminates local groundwater.

Los Alamos scientists refuse to admit the connection between their nuclear experimentation and the elevated rates of cancer and birth defects found among the neighboring Tewa.

After our trek was blessed by Tewa spiritual leaders and community activists, and we received the sacred staff that we would carry for the duration of our journey, we began to walk.

The Nuclear Death Cycle

Since the start of the Manhattan Project in 1942, native communities in the Southwest have borne a disproportionate share of the social and ecological fallout from the deadly addiction to nuclear power and weapons in the US. From uranium mining and nuclear testing to the transport and storage of radioactive waste, the original inhabitants of the geographic regions known as the Great Basin and Colorado Plateau have been negatively impacted by every stage of the nuclear cycle.

In the US, two-thirds of all known reserves of uranium lie underneath Native American reservations. The bulk of uranium mining has occurred around the Colorado Plateau in a vast swath of land stretching from nearly Albuquerque in the east to Las Vegas in the west and encompassing the Grand Canyon.

This area is home to the greatest concentration of indigenous populations remaining in North America. More than 1,000 abandoned uranium mines lie on the Navajo reservation alone, largely with no attempt to cover or restrain the toxic waste. Our route took us by much of this land.

At our roadside camp north of Tuba City, a Dine man described how, as a child, he would play atop piles of leftover uranium tailings. Sadly, his story is not unique.

It is indicative of a history of racist and criminal negligence that has exposed the Dine, and others, to extreme health risks. Enlisted to aid military and industrial production of nuclear materials during "World War II" and "the Cold War", Dine uranium miners lacked access to uncontaminated drinking water a nd labored without protection in air thick with dust that was, even by 1950 standards, 750 times more radioactive than accepted limits. By 1990. out of 3,500 individuals who mined uranium in New Mexico, 450 had died of cancer, more than 10 times the average rate in unexposed populations.

In 1979, the worlds largest radioactive spill occurred on the Navajo reservation in Church Rock, New Mexico, contaminating Dine land and the Rio Puerco River. Since then, the land has not been cleaned up, yet the Bureau of Indian Affairs had chosen it as an official site to where Dine people are to be relocated from their ancestral homes.

Read more: