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View Diary: Good News! Uranium mining banned on Navajo rez! (40 comments)

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  •  Thanks! (4.00)
    Good suggestion for the title.

    I agree with you about the powerful corporations. I am still trying to find the article about the mining company in Texas that is chomping at the bit to mine in New Mexico. They will be a force to contend with.

    Something that is interesting about the Navajo reservation is that the Navajos are on the land that was designated to them by their gods, within the four sacred mountains.  Many tribes have been relocated off of their lands. The Navajos feel that this land belongs to them.

    I am happy with the current President of the Navajo Nation.  He is doing a lot of good today.

    Thanks for the link.

    •  Well, being from Texas (none)
      I would bet Tom DeLay has his hands in the coffer of any mining interest from the state.

      Good point about the attachment to place. I would posit that as a result of the uranium rush during the Cold War, actions taken by Navajo tribal members, the federal government, and mining corporations altered Navajo people's views of identity, community, and environment in the Four Corners. The federal government demanded the commodification of Navajo land and its abundant natural resources. Corporate and government officials viewed the terrain and the people as entities from which to extract wealth and power. They intended to mold the earth and take what they wanted; the earth would not shape them in return.  Traditional Navajo beliefs, conversely, revolved around a reciprocal relationship with their environment in which they shaped and were alternately shaped by the world in which they lived. Although not environmentalists in a strictly modern sense, Navajos strove to maximize yields while maintaining long-term harmony with the world around them.  Mining and its waste altered Navajo relationships with their land and with one another. Uranium, as part of Mother Earth, rests within the Navajo pantheon of sacred entities. In the Cold War years, as a result of mining, it became an enemy that brought illness and death to Navajo people; the monetary benefits of uranium mining exacerbated tensions among different Navajo groups; and mining's effects on land and water left vast areas of the Four Corners permanently scarred. Uranium mining, therefore, challenged many Navajos because it conflicted with the tribe's cultural tradition of living harmoniously in the Four Corners with Mother Earth.

      I recall that many Navajos fought for continued mineral-rights leases in the late 1990s. In a 1998 Time Magazine article, Navajo Leonard Arviso argued that American Indians "can respect Mother Earth without wasting" the uranium in the Four Corners.  To many Navajos, mining represented a disruption in the harmony of the tribe, but others felt that it offered a way out of poverty.

      It's going to be a long struggle as monetary gain and respect for the area between the four sacred mountains seem to be consistently at odds.

      I'll see what I can find here in Texas about the corporation that is trying to mine in the Four Corners.

      So Bush has a mandate. Is it Lieberman? Mehlman? G/G?

      by TexSux on Fri Apr 22, 2005 at 10:06:53 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Place (none)
        Good point about the attachment to place.

        I don't know... maybe my  viewpoint on all these issues has to do with the fact that my family has not moved 50 miles in 200 years.  I've lived in the same town all my life.  That means I'm firmly out of the American cultural mainstream.  American culture is a culture of wandering; despite our shiny cities, we're the modern-day hunter-gatherers, while we look down on people who have lived in the same spot for hundreds or thousands of years and call them "less civilized."  Pretty amazing.

        It seems like a no-brainer to me, but until Americans are forced to put down real roots, they'll probably never understand the Native view of land.  This is what the politicians and some citizens in NYS don't get, with the Haudenosaunee (the traditional ones, at any rate):  Land is not exchangable for cash - except in the interest of being compassionate (ie, to the innocent descendants of white settlers whose governments  illegally appropriated the land).  Land is not a commodity.  But we Americans live in a society where the endless building, buying and selling of houses and property is a big part of the economy, not just the worldview.  

        Unfortunately, I think it is true that violating the integrity of the land really messes with the heads of the people who have lived on it.  What you describe with the Navajo and uranium mining - the debate between respect for the land and getting out of poverty - is the same debate as among New York's Haudenosaunee, where there is very strong anti-casino sentiment in some quarters, creating tension and political intrigue.

    •  Hydro Resources, Inc. (4.00)
      out of Dallas, has $30 million lined up in Bush's new energy plan for uranium mining on Navajo land and for R&D. They already received $10 million in the late 1990s. I'll keep looking for the ties to DeLay.

      So Bush has a mandate. Is it Lieberman? Mehlman? G/G?

      by TexSux on Fri Apr 22, 2005 at 04:26:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  EXCELLENT FIND!! (none)
        Many thanks for working on this. Your find is a very good one. Let me know what you come up with.

        I can't gain access to the article "Hidden legacy: Navajo Nation grapples with uranium mining issue" I read in Native Times on February 24th.  It named a uranium mining company in Texas that is paying stipends to Navajo families. Hydro Resources is not ringing a bell for me. Blast the cobwebs in my memory. I have written Native Times to complain about their subscription service not working.  Hopefully I will regain access soon.

        •  Try this (none)
          Is this the article of which you spoke?:

          Hydro Resources is a subsidiary of    
          Uranium Resources, Inc.
          650 S. Edmonds Lane, Suite 105
          Lewisville, Texas 75067

          They claim (according to that they "are the oldest uranium in situ leach ("ISL") company in the United States whose technology has been used as a model by other ISL operators in Nebraska, Wyoming, Texas, and Australia. Our current high quality ISL uranium property inventory and accompanying database in the States of Texas and New Mexico is the highest quality known in the U.S. that are amenable to the ISL, and is vast, with known resources of 100 mm pounds U3O8. We have obtained, and maintain, all of the associated exploration and development data banks, results and documentation. In New Mexico our properties are in the advanced stages of permitting and licensing."

          I have written fairly extensively on the issue of uranium and Navajos from an outsiders point of view--as a mere graduate student from Houston, Texas (and from Minnesota at that!), but I hope we can figure out a way to pool our information to broaden our fight against new mining operations on the reservation.

          I'll send you a fairly lengthy paper I wrote if you are interested...

          So Bush has a mandate. Is it Lieberman? Mehlman? G/G?

          by TexSux on Fri Apr 22, 2005 at 10:44:46 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yes, that's it (none)
            That is the article I have been trying to retrieve but it doesn't have the reference to the Navajo family that is being paid stipends by URI. I have completely lost that article.

            That is the website I visited before. URI is the company chomping at the bit to mine in New Mexico. So Hydro Resources IS the company we have to keep an eye on.

            I would love to read your paper.
            Please send to me dkosnavajo at yahoo you know.

            Thanks so much for your interest in this fight. We need numerous sets of eyes on the advances that URI will try to make.

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