Navajo Uranium Film Fest: Microcosm of truth in Indian country
Navajo Uranium Film Festival exposes truth, as Long Walkers trek for sovereignty, and Mi'kmaq put their lives on the line to protect their land and water
By Brenda Norrell Censored News
Photo by Bad Bear Sampson
The International Uranium Film Festival is underway in the Navajo Nation Nation's capitol, with films exposing the local and global devastation resulting from uranium mining on Indigenous lands, where corporate greed and sinister agendas have left a legacy of cancer, disease, death and ecocide.
Meanwhile, in Nevada, Native Americans are walking across America with the message of sovereignty and hope. As they trekked over the snow-packed highway toward Carson City, Nevada today, walkers grew closer to their goal of Alcatraz Island. The Longest Walk 4 Return to Alcatraz began in Washington DC on July 15 and arrives in Alcatraz on Dec. 21, with a ceremony on Dec. 22.
In Canada, Mi'kmaqs continue to resist fracking and the threat to their land and water, as the Houston-based Southwestern Energy, SWN, pushed forward in the courts and onto Mi'kmaqs sovereign land this week. Arrests continue as Mi'kmaqs, including women and elderly, put their lives on the line to protect their land, water and future generations. On Sunday night, Umatilla tribal members and climate justice activists blocked and halted a megaload in Oregon bound for Alberta tarsands. It is the most recent protest of megaloads and the planned Keystone XL pipeline that threatens Indian country. Already Cree and First Nations lands and waters are poisoned from tarsands mining. At the International Uranium Film Festival in Window Rock, Arizona, at the Navajo Nation Museum, Shiprock, N.M., Councilman Russell Begaye described the devastation caused by uranium mining on the Navajo Nation and in his home community of Shiprock. He remembered the dead fish floating in the river as a child, and his relatives stricken by diseases from radioactive contamination.
On the Navajo Nation, Navajos were sent to their deaths in the uranium mines during the Cold War without protective clothing, even though the US government and corporations knew of the deadly effects of radioactive uranium. Today, radioactive uranium tailings remain strewn across the Navajo Nation, as the US EPA has failed in its responsibility for cleanup. The Church Rock N.M. uranium tailings spill contamination in 1979 has now flowed down the Rio Puerco contaminating the region. Even with this legacy of disease and death, and failed cleanup, new uranium mining companies are targeting this area of Navajoland and the nearby Pueblo and Mount Taylor region in New Mexico with new uranium mining.
On Monday during the festival, Duane 'Chili' Yazzie pointed out that the modernday Navajo Nation government is not one of the peoples' own, but one imposed on Navajos.
Among the speakers at the film festival was Petuuche Gilbert of Acoma Pueblo and Carletta Tilousi of Havasupai who described the widespread contamination in the Southwest from uranium mining, from the Pueblos in New Mexico to the Supais sacred land in the Grand Canyon. The Southwest region remains contaminated with radioactive dust from Cold War uranium mining and recent uranium mining, that has poisoned water and land, and both plant and animal food sources, resulting in widespread deaths from cancer and respiratory disease. Wendsler Nosie, San Carlos Apache, described the ongoing fight against Resolution Copper mine and the need to protect sacred land. Nosie fought to protect Mount Graham from the massive telescopes constructed by the University of Arizona in Tucson and a consortium of universities, which was promoted by the Pope. Nosie stressed the importance of working with the youths for future generations.
The International Uranium Film Festival continues at the Navajo Nation Museum on Wednesday, the final day, with talks by Native Americans and films from around the world. It is available on livestream.
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