August 2020

Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Lakota Debra White Plume: Radioactive Sacrifice Area

Keep Out! Radioactive Sacrifice Area

by Debra White Plume, Oglala Lakota Author, Artist, Activist from the Beautiful Pine Ridge Homeland

Censored News
Photo: Bring Back the Way

The human beings, who comprise Powertech USA, Inc., (PT) are embarking on a path of destruction from which there is no return, which we on the Plains must face for generations, while they reside far away in their homelands of Canada and France.
This new corporation has no history of accountability in adhering to environmental laws or in the cleanup of a mined-out area. According to the NRC website, there are thousands of reports by mining corporations that document problems in containing uranium-laden water to the mine site to be located in Custer and Fall River Counties, 12 miles northwest of Edgemont, SD. It is challenging to accept that a new corporation mining uranium in an area with thousands of improperly abandoned boreholes and fractured aquifers will have the capacity to contain the radioactive water it plans to pump to the surface through miles and miles of pipe. Pipe which, according to the NRC website, leaks!
Powertech’s planned Dewey-Burdock In Situ Leach mining will puncture through four aquifers and endanger a fragile geologic situation. PT knows of the thousands of uncapped boreholes in their mine permit area and the faults and fractures horizontally and vertically between aquifers through which groundwater can spread thorium, radium, arsenic and other contaminants disturbed with ISL mining. These metals can travel to contaminate clean drinking and surface water, which may eventually end up in the pipe that brings drinking water into our homes, or the garden hose that waters our family gardens. Arsenic and alpha emitters make people sick. The history of earthquakes in the Black Hills makes ISL uranium mining even more dangerous.
Does PT have the finances to pay fines for leaks and spills that other corporations have had to pay (according to the NRC website), or to cleanup? It is not clear if PT has the resources to pay for cleaning up its mess.
PT’s uranium mining applications to the NRC and the SD Dept of Environment and Natural Resources were deemed inadequate. Rather than denying the applications, both entities helped revise PT’s applications. The fact that the corporation failed to complete a satisfactory application does not create confidence and makes one wonder about these governmental entities: are they here to look out for the well-being of people and the environment, or for the mining corporations?
The opportunity to view the public records of PT’s 6,000 page application as limited to Internet availability is prejudicial, it assumes that everyone has Internet access and eliminates untold members of the general public. Let me be clear, this practice impacts the most vulnerable: the poor and the isolated.
The Dewey-Burdock area is in 1868 Ft Laramie Treaty Territory and in a place sacred to the Lakota People: the Black Hills, The Heart of Everything That Is. The 1868 Ft Laramie Treaty was ratified by Congress and was never amended. Under international law it is our land.
Our ancestors fought the United States, many people died, to protect the Black Hills and our landbase. There are hundreds of places in the proposed mining area identified as archaeological, historical, cultural, etc. There are tipi rings, stone cairns, graves. There are nests there, for eagles which need protection. For a corporation to have more rights than human beings is a violation of Human Rights. To keep us away from a sacred place is to kill our people and way of life. What kind of government makes such laws? to turn this area into a “National Sacrifice Area”?
The laws of the United States, the NRC regulations, and the individuals who sit behind those desks can honor Treaty Law, the life way of the Lakota, and respect Mother Earth by denying Powertech USA, Inc.’s application to mine uranium. After PT has mined for 20 years, used billions of gallons of water, fouled our aquifers and land, and completed processing its Yellow Cake imported from Wyoming, the individuals on PT’s Board of Directors and its shareholders will remove the pumps that keep radioactive water “contained”, cap the deep disposal wells storing billions of gallons of radioactive waste, dismantle its buildings for shipment to a nuclear waste dump, lay off the handful of local employees, close its Hot Springs Office and enjoy their financial profit back in their home offices in Canada and France. The NRC staff will file away the paperwork of the Dewey-Burdock Uranium Mine. Will the file tab read, “South Dakota: Radioactive, Keep Out”?

Printed with permission.

New Mexico: First atomic bomb and Church Rock uranium spill: July 16th

In the New Mexico homelands of Navajos and Pueblos, July 16 marks a day of secrecy and the legacy of death

Photos: Trinity detonation of first atomic bomb, 35 miles southeast of Socorro, NM. Photo 2: Church Rock Memorial Walk by Maria Varela/SRIC Photo 3: Church Rock spill contamination.

By Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety
NEW MEXCIO: July 16th is a historic day in New Mexico because it was the day in 1945 when the first atomic bomb was detonated at the Trinity Site and it was the day in 1979 when the Church Rock Uranium Mill Tailings Spill took place. To commemorate these events, prayer walks, candlelight vigils and community education events will be held.
First, to remember the communities affected by the Church Rock Uranium Mill Tailings Spill 31 years ago, the Multicultural Alliance for a Safe Environment will hold events in the Red Water Pond Road Community. From 7 to 9 am there will be a Prayer Walk on Highway 566 in remembrance of the communities affected by the spill. There will be a Commemoration Proclamation and Reaffirmation of the Navajo Nation's Uranium Mining Ban that was set forth in the Dine' Natural Resources Protection Act of 2005. A luncheon will begin at noon.
On the morning of July 16th, an earthen tailings dam at the United Nuclear Corporation Church Rock Uranium Mill failed, spilling large amounts of liquid radioactive waste into the Puerco River in New Mexico, which eventually flowed downstream into Arizona. The Church Rock spill is second only to the 1986 Chernobyl meltdown for the amount of radiation released from an accident. The spill contributed to the long-term contamination already present in the watershed from the release of untreated or poorly treated uranium mine water into the Puerco River. The commemorative event serves as a reminder that the Dine' communities throughout the area still carry the burden of the uranium legacy to this day.

Church Rock: For more information, contact Teddy Nez at 505 879-2910.

Second, the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium and Las Mujeres Hablan will hold a statewide gathering in Tularosa in support and remembrance of those who were exposed to the radiation released from the detonation of the first atomic bomb at the Trinity Test Site, near Socorro.
On Friday, July 16, the Consortium will hold a candlelight vigil from 8 to 10 pm for those who have lost loved ones to cancer or are cancer survivors.
On Saturday, July 17, the Consortium and Las Mujeres Hablan will hold an all day community gathering at the Tularosa Community Center, beginning at 9 am. Participants will have the opportunity to share their memories of the Trinity Test. They will learn also about the amendments to the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act, proposed by Senator Udall, which would cover those exposed to radiation from the Trinity Test.
Tularosa is located 35 miles southeast of Socorro and north of Alamogordo, N.M.
For more information, please contact Tina Cordova at 505 897-6838.

The Church Rock Uranium Mill Spill occurred in New Mexico, USA, in 1979 when United Nuclear Corporation's Church Rock uranium mill tailings disposal pond breached its dam. Over 1,000 tons of radioactive mill waste and millions of gallons of mine effluent flowed into the Puerco River. Local residents used river water for irrigation and livestock and were not immediately aware of the toxic danger. In terms of the amount of radiation released the accident was comparable in magnitude to the Three Mile Island accident of the same year and has been reported as the largest radioactive accident in U.S. History.
On July 16, 1979, United Nuclear Corporation's Church Rock uranium mill tailings disposal pond breached its dam and 1100 tons of radioactive mill waste and approximately 93 million gallons of mine effluent flowed into the Puerco River. The contaminated water from the Church Rock spill travelled 80 miles downstream, reaching as far as Navajo, Arizona. Shortly after the breach below the dam radiation levels of river water were 7000 times that of the allowable level of drinking water. The flood backed up sewers, affected nearby aquifers and left stagnating pools on the riverside. Read more:

WIKIPEDIA excerpts: Trinity was the code-name of the first nuclear-weapons test of an atomic bomb. This test was conducted by the United States Army on July 16, 1945, at a location about 35 miles (56 km) southeast of Socorro, New Mexico, on the White Sands Proving Ground, of the U.S. Army.Trinity was a test of an implosion-design plutonium device. The weapon's codename was "The Gadget". Using the same conceptual design, the Fat Man device was detonated over Nagasaki, Japan, on August 9, 1945. The Trinity detonation produced an explosive power equivalent to the explosion of about 20 kilotons of TNT explosive. This date is usually considered to be the beginning of the Atomic Age.
While U.S. and British attempts to investigate the feasibility of nuclear weapons began as early as 1939, practical development began in earnest in 1942 when these efforts were transferred to the authority of the U.S. Army and became the "Manhattan Project". The weapons-development portion of this project was located at the Los Alamos Laboratory in northern New Mexico, though much other development and production work was carried out near Oak Ridge, Tennessee, (the separation of uranium-235); near Hanford, Washington, (the production and separation of plutonium-239); and in and near Chicago, Illinois, (at the University of Chicago and at the Argonne National Laboratories).
Read more:

VIDEO:  Navajo Leona Morgan interview at US Social Forum: Navajos Oppose New Uranium Mining in New Mexico. Recorded by Earthcycles:

COLUMN: Lakota Debra White Plume: Radioactive Sacrifice Area in South Dakota

VIDEO:  Tewa Women United at Detroit Social Forum: Legacy of Death at Los Alamos National Labs in New Mexico. Recorded by Earthcycles:

Alamogordo News: Did Trinity cause cancers?


Photos Francisco Dominguez: Indigenous Peoples Without Borders

Indigenous People Without Borders
Date: Thursday, July 15, 2010
Time: 7:00pm - 8:00pm
Location: Watsonville Bike Shack
Street: 555 Main Street (Behind the Old Chavez Furniture Store)
City/Town: Watsonville, CA
Documentary by Photographer Francisco J. Dominguez Jr.
Sacramento-based Francisco Dominguez is a photographer and art educator and has documented native people in political struggle for the last 20 years. He has documented the lives of immigrating and displaced people and were directly affected by US economic trade policies. Francisco has used his work to bring attention to the injustices on the Mexico/US border and in states such Arizona.
The infrared-sensitive film he uses creates an ethereal atmosphere, a timeless reflection of the cultural legacy of his subjects. Dominguez’s photography gives an unexpected twist to the common assumption that documentary photographs reveal “objective” portrayals. Dominguez has participated in many exhibitions in California.
Sponsored by the Watsonville Brown Berets and Migra Watch.
For More Information Check Out 
Francisco Dominguez at

Roberto Rodriguez: Arizona's SB 1070: A crack law by any other name

Arizona’s SB 1070: A crack law by any other name
By Roberto Dr. Cintli Rodriguez

By now, most of the world has learned that the Republican-dominated legislature in Arizona and its unelected governor are capable of creating laws more associated with repressive regimes – or bygone eras – than with modern states. And it also knows it has become a magnet for supremacists of every stripe and color.
That’s not a good thing, but for those thousands who are bankrolling Gov. Jan Brewer’s defense of the state’s racial profiling law SB 1070 – scheduled to go into effect July 29 – many actually believe she is putting up a valiant defense against invading and violent [brown] hordes. Seemingly unbeknownst to her supporters, contrary to her recent claims, the vast majority of migrants are not involved in the drug trade. Despite Border Patrol officials telling her otherwise, she continues with her uninformed falsehoods and fear-mongering, with the effect of continuing to associate migrants with [drug] criminality.
Also unbeknownst to these legislators, is that ironically, one of their wacko laws can actually provide the solution to ending the drug cartel violence raging across Mexico: the state’s anti-human smuggling law. In this state, migrants can be charged and convicted of conspiring [with their coyote] to smuggle themselves into Arizona. The law was not designed that way, but leave it to Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio to interpret the law in such a manner.
After having been stripped of his 287g federal immigration powers – stemming from his penchant for media choreographed mass dragnet raids aimed at red-brown communities – he now relies on the state’s anti-human smuggling law to stage his dehumanizing productions.
As bizarre and abused as this law is – if emulated to fight the drug war in the United States – the drug cartel wars in Mexico would come to a virtual halt overnight. If the same Arpaio logic were applied to the nation’s drug trafficking laws, then every American who uses imported illegal drugs would be complicit and guilty of conspiring to smuggle those drugs into this country. And we would need a lot more prisons.
Either that or perhaps the drug demand by Americans would drop quite precipitously… pronto. No one can seriously doubt that it is the American demand for drugs that is fueling the drug cartel wars in Mexico. The American market is extremely lucrative. Cocaine, for example, is not grown or produced in Mexico. Yet, it is funneled through Mexico to quench the voracious American appetite. As part of this demand, American noses and arms are satisfied while many thousands of Mexicans die in the crossfire.
The state legislature or Congress could charge drug users with conspiracy to smuggle the drugs they use. There is but one reason this will never happen: WE ARE AMERICANS!
Americans have rules for everyone else and rules for themselves (Invading nations without a just cause is one example). Actually, “Americans” in this case is more specific; when it comes to drugs, there are rules for White, middle and upper middle class Americans, and then there are rules for people of color.
Cocaine is the perfect example. Since 1986, there has been a 100 to 1 possession disparity between its consumption as crack (wrongly associated with poor blacks) or in its powder form (middle class whites). Historically, under federal law, 5 grams of crack is the same as 500 grams of powdered cocaine. Each trigger a 5-year prison sentence. Over the past generation, this sentencing and incarceration disparity, not coincidentally, has long been indisputably racial in nature, resulting in the filling up of this nation’s prisons with black and brown drug offenders.
But back to how Arizona’s bizarre anti-smuggling law could be used to stem the drug cartel violence. American drug users – most of whom are white – could be charged, not with simple possession, but with felony conspiracy to bring in their own drugs. If applied judiciously and uniformly, the fear of long-term prison incarceration – 10 years, for example – would invariably dry up the fuel for the drug cartel violence.
It would also deflate the conflation between drug smuggling and migrants.
As most of the world already knows, that conflation has always been false.
Yet that’s par for Arizona where bizarre is normal and truth is difficult to find. Perhaps the Justice Department – which has now sued Arizona over SB 1070 on the grounds that immigration policy is the purview of the federal government, not the states – will bring a little bit of truth to the desert. Meanwhile, 153 bodies have thus far been recovered this year in that same merciless desert (
Rodriguez, an assistant professor at the University of Arizona, can be reached at: