August 2020

Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Navajos at Shiprock heart-wrenching vote not to irrigate with contaminated river water

The scorched earth campaign of the US EPA's gold mine spill is devastating for Navajo farmers, the latest travesty in the Four Corners, where Cold War uranium mining and coal-fired power plants have left a trail of death for Navajos
Duane 'Chili' Yazzie

By Brenda Norrell
Censored News
English with Dutch translation

SHIPROCK, N.M. -- Navajo farmers at Shiprock made the heart-wrenching decision not to irrigate crops this season with the San Juan River water now contaminated with heavy metals from the Animas River Gold King mine spill, which the US EPA was responsible for.
Duane 'Chili' Yazzie said, "The Shiprock Chapter of the Navajo Nation voted 104 to 0 not to turn river water back into our irrigation system for this season. It was one of the hardest decisions we have ever had to make.
"It was difficult to watch farmers make the heart wrenching decision they know will assure the loss of much of our crops; crops that they are attached to, that they nurtured, cared for and sang to. Through our tears we ask for forgiveness from our corn and our crop family," Yazzie said.
"It was a sacrifice to make sure that we not contaminate our irrigation system and our farmlands. We said we will not risk the quality of our crops into the future. It was a decision that said we want to leave a clean land for our grandchildren. 
"Our prayer is for our river, the Earth Mother to heal.
"We stand as proud and resilient Diné, we will persevere, we shall survive," Yazzie said.
The heart-wrenching vote comes after Shiprock farmers found oil contamination in the water that arrived in the tanks from the US EPA after the spill. The US EPA sent water by way of an oil and fracking company and the tanks were contaminated with oil.
Even before the oil contaminated water arrived from the US EPA, the US EPA began a dirty tricks campaign, attempting to get Navajos to sign waivers which would limit the EPA's responsibility for the river spill.
Shiprock is in the heart of the Four Corners where coal-fired power plants have already poisoned the air, water and land. 
Further, the Cold War uranium mining in the area left a trail of deaths from uranium mining because Navajo uranium miners were sent to their deaths without protective clothing in the uranium mines, even after the US knew that it would kill them. 
The radioactive dust poisoned food, crops and livestock grazing areas. Even in recent years, homes in the area, including Red Valley and Cove, where built using radioactive rocks, as revealed by Geiger counters. Still today, radioactive rocks remain scattered in the Shiprock region because of the failed cleanup.
The poisoning of the Animas River and San Juan River by the US EPA is the latest in this travesty of a scorched earth campaign carried out here. 
The Four Corners coal-fired power plants, some of the dirtiest in the world, have resulted in this becoming a sacrifice zone, with respiratory diseases and cancer in this trail of death.
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Home » Nieuws » * Navajo’s in Shiprock nemen de hartverscheurende beslissing om het besmette rivierwater niet te geb

* Navajo’s in Shiprock nemen de hartverscheurende beslissing om het besmette rivierwater niet te gebruiken voor hun gewassen.
De ‘verbrande aarde’ campagne van US EPA is verwoestend voor Navajo boeren, de recente aanfluiting in de Four Corners, waar de ‘koude oorlog’ uranium ontginning en door kolen aangestookte elektriciteitscentrales reeds een spoor van dood achtergelaten hebben voor de Navajo’s

 Vertaald door: NAIS:
Shiprock, N.M.- Navajo landbouwers hebben de hartverscheurende beslissing genomen om hun gewassen dit seizoen niet te sproeien met het door zware metalen vervuilde San Juan River water, waarvoor US EPA verantwoordelijk is.
Duane ‘Chili’ Yazzie (foto) zei: “ Het Shiprock Chapter van de Navajo Nation stemde 104 op 0 tegen om het rivierwater terug in ons irrigatie systeem te brengen. Het was een van de zwaarste beslissingen ooit die we moeten nemen.”
“ Het was zwaar om de boeren die hartverscheurende beslissing te zien nemen, een beslissing waarvan ze weten dat veel van onze gewassen zullen sterven; gewassen waarmee zij verbonden zijn, die zij koesteren, verzorgen en waar ze tot gezongen hebben,” zei Yazzie.
“ We hebben onze oogst opgeofferd omdat wij ons irrigatiesysteem en onze velden niet willen contamineren. Wij hebben gezegd dat we de kwaliteit van onze oogsten in de toekomst niet willen riskeren. Het was een beslissing die zegt dat wij een zuiver land willen achterlaten voor onze kleinkinderen.”
“Ons gebed is voor onze rivier, voor het herstel van onze Aardemoeder.”
“Wij staan op als fiere en veerkrachtige Dine’, wij zullen standhouden, wij zullen overleven,” aldus Yazzie.

Deze vreselijke stemming kwam er nadat de Shiprock boeren olie contaminatie gevonden hadden in het water dat, na het lek, in tanks van US EPA werd aangevoerd.
De US EPA had het water gezonden met een olie en fracking bedrijf en de tanks waren verontreinigd door olie.
De US EPA was reeds voor het verontreinigde water arriveerde met zijn vuile trucs begonnen door hun campagne om Navajo’s verklaringen te laten ondertekenen die de aansprakelijkheid van de EPA zou verminderen.
Shiprock ligt in het hart van de Four Corners waar kolengestookte elektriciteitscentrales het water, lucht en land al vergiftigd hadden.

Verder hebben de ‘koude oorlog” mijnontginningen in de streek een spoor van dood achtergelaten omdat Navajo mijnwerkers zonder bescherming- kledij naar hun dood gezonden werden in de uranium mijnen, zelfs nadat de US goed wist dat het hen fataal zou worden.
De radioactieve stof vergiftigde het voedsel, gewassen en de graasvelden van de veestapel.
Zelfs nog tot voor kort werden voor de bouw van huizen radioactieve stenen gebruikt, zoals bleek uit metingen met Geiger tellers.
Nog steeds liggen radioactieve rotsen verspreid in de Shiprock streek door de nalatige opkuis.
Het vergiftigen van de Animas rivier en San Juan rivier door de US EPA is het recentste drama in de ‘verbrande aarde’ campagne die hier uitgevoerd wordt.
De Four Corners kolencentrales, enkele van de meest vervuilende van de wereld, zorgden ervoor dat dit een ‘offerzone’ geworden is, met ziekten van de luchtwegen en kanker tot gevolg. Een weg naar de dood!

Lakotas Rally to Protect Sacred Water Aug. 24, 2015

Owe Aku
International Justice Project
Owe Aku
Bring Back the Way
Dutch translation by Alice Holemans
NAIS Gazette
Owe Aku is a grassroots organization of Lakota people and our allies founded to promote the protection of sacred water and preservation of our territorial lands.  Our actions for environmental justice rely upon cultural revitalization as our major tool in achieving our goals.  The principle location from which are operations are based are on Lakota territory along Wounded Knee Creek on what is called the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation .  More information on our work can be found


CONTACT:  Vic Camp, Owe Aku
2015, 20 AUGUST 2015                                                                                           
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission Atomic Safety and Licensing Board will hold a hearing Aug. 24-28th 2015 in Crawford, Nebraska on challenges to the license renewal for Cameco’s Crow Butte uranium recovery facility near Crawford. The board is the independent body within the NRC that conducts adjudicatory hearings and renders decisions on legal challenges to licensing actions.
                                                                                      After a ten-year battle to stop the uranium mine from renewing and expanding it’s operations, experts and lawyers representing local residents, Native Americans, the Western Nebraska Resources Council and the Oglala Sioux Tribe will have their opportunity to testify in front of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The plaintiffs intervened in 2008 to stop the uranium mining permit renewal. Evidence presented will address contentions which challenge, among other things: the adequacy of the evaluation and protection of historical resources at the site, impact on Native sacred sites and the NRC’s analysis of the facility’s impacts on surface water, groundwater, and the ecosystem.

The board will hear arguments on four technical contentions and five related to the environmental review. The NRC renewed the facility license in 2014 in advance of the hearing, with an expiration date ofNov. 5, 2024.

DATES: 8/24-8/28/15 FROM 9:30- 6:00 PM or until all evidence is heard
LOCATION: Crawford Community Center, 1005 1st St., in Crawford, Nebraska
Debra White Plume, a Lakota grandmother, Director of Owe Aku (Bring Back the Way) and lead plaintiff says:
Indeed, this environmental issue truly goes beyond the boundaries of race, county lines, townships, state borders -- it effects all of life in this area, and can reach far into the future generations of all living things: the two-legged, the four-legged, the winged, the standing silent nation (plants), those that crawl and swim, and our Sacred Water, Sacred Land, and Sacred Air. For the Lakota Oyate (Lakota People) a clean environment is a matter of life and death. To expose our people to the deadly toxins of uranium mining is a threat to our survival as a people… this is environmental racism."

Colleen Bennan, local resident and Sisterhood Water Watch co-founder says:
I was born in Dawes County, raised in rural Sioux County. Crawford is my hometown. I live in Chadron today, just 24 miles down the road. I still have family and friends there. I don't feel unsafe in my little town. I walk with intention, my head is up, my eyes and ears are open. I oppose this foreign company and its practices. I am not afraid. I welcome anyone to come spend time with open minds."                                                                                                                              Members of the public and media are welcome to observe the evidentiary hearing, but testimony will be limited to the parties, lawyers and witnesses. Arrive at least 15 minutes early for security screening. Videotaping is not permitted inside, but plaintiffs, community members, local residents and others working to stop uranium mining in the region will be available for interviews outside.
Additional information follows.

Some believe that re-configuring the character of the pristine Black Hills by dotting it with uranium mining operations is good for South Dakota. Many don't.

"Some have thought the foreign company
(Azarga/Powertech, known simply as Powertech here) with offices in Vancouver and Hong Kong is a sound investment. Many, many, many have learned the hard way that it isn't.
Among them were those who bought the stock at better than $4 per share in '07. Then there was that bunch who thought they were stealing it for $1.50 per share in '08. And let's not forget those buyers who paid 50 cents per share between '09 and '11. What they think now that Powertech stock is trading at 6 cents per share is probably unprintable here.
That the company has destroyed a lot of investor equity over the years is a matter of record. That its persistent pursuit of permits to start its water-based in situ uranium recovery venture in the Black Hills has been the basis for the company's claims of better times ahead is obvious. That some believe the effort is really a calculated maneuver to do nothing more than drive up the price of Powertech stock is a reasonable conclusion.
This company lives in the "penny stocks" world, which is so loaded with disclaimers and warnings that most serious investors shun them. NASDAQ itself issues a rather stern and unequivocal warning about these companies, which include stocks like Powertech, that can't even be bought through conventional means. Ask your brokers about the much-disdained "pink sheet" list of stocks.
And why does the conclusion that Powertech's main goal is to drive up the price of its stock by blowing smoke about the company's expectations seem reasonable? Well, you have to look at the global market for uranium itself, which collapsed after the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster a few years ago. The price has fallen by more than half, which dealt a sharp blow to Powertech's prospects.
One local analyst tells me that the price of uranium is below the cost of mining it in the Black Hills. If correct, then Powertech's reason to exist is all about getting some sort of a bounce in the price of its stock, which calls for a full frontal public relations assault by the company's touts.
Dr. Lilias Jarding of Rapid City has been so incensed by the company's efforts at doing so that she just fired off a letter to Canada's Securities Commission, complaining about the company's misstatements, which she believes are intended to mislead both the general public and potential investors in Powertech stock. I think her concerns have merit, and I hope Canadian regulators look into it.

-Debra White Plume is Executive Director of Owe Aku, a lead plaintiff in the hearing. Their website features information about their uranium work, a legal brief on the history of Water Regulations in the United States, federal government treaty obligations and other work done by this Lakota based Environmental and Human Justice

-CRYING EARTH RISE UP- This contemporary documentary film exposes the human cost of uranium mining and its impact on Great Plains drinking water.  The film website ( has a lot of information regarding the issues and stories. Director Suree Towfighnia is attending the hearing and hosting regional screenings during the week. She is helping coordinate media.


Contention A & C:
Regulations do not require off site water testing for uranium and other heavy metals associated with uranium ISL milling. Disinformation has caused the radioactive contamination to be normalized. A farming/ranching operation adjacent to Cameco Crow Butte Resources had to down crops due to air-born contamination from the mine, it is said there was a payout to cover the lost crop.

Contention F: Educational administrators have neglected Dawes county students and do not provide access to earth science classes that fully analyze local soils and water. Educators who want this kind of technical knowledge for students get ostracized and/or not even considered for employment within Panhandle classrooms.

Contention 1: Local leaderships who are Cameco proponents use institutionalized racism effectively to dismiss the Oglala Lakota Nation and individual members who are intervening in opposition of Cameco Crow Butte Resources uranium milling license permit. No formal consultation has been undertaken with the Indigenous Tribal Nations of the region. Furthermore, no formal consultation has been performed with the rural agricultural heritage descendants or agritourism businesses living in the area.

Regarding Contentions 12-14, Cameco CBR ISL has consistently failed to coordinate and react appropriately to industrial and/or rangeland wildfire occurrences off site and in surrounding environs. 75 violations and reportable incidents show a complete lack of due diligence for the safety of people, livestock and soils.


I represent Consolidated Intervenors in the NRC Atomic Safety Licensing Board hearing coming this Monday Aug 24 to Friday Aug 28 - we have raised contentions that the mining in the faults and fractures is inimical to public health and safety in violation of the Atomic Energy Act and that the NRC and Crow Butte mine failed to respect native rights and failed to adequately identify and protect traditional cultural properties -

The 'cozy' relation between the NRC and mining company has allowed abuse of regulations, abuse of law, and a cover up of pollution by the mine despite consistent warnings from geologists going back to a 1989 Whistleblower letter which was ignored by NRC. NRC gave the mine a 7 year 'free pass' by delaying a decision on its 2007 license renewal until 2014 and then granting a full 10 year license till 2024; of course the mining company lawyer used to be a lawyer for the NRC Staff; all this despite there being 79 violations of the license and regulations by the mine in the past few years; many spills and a failure to restore the mined aquifers to baseline as well as failure by the mine to use recent geological research and failure to test for uranium in monitoring wells because they don't want to know.

Meanwhile, Dr. LaGarry (one of our experts) says that every time it rains contaminants are driven farther along The White River to Pine Ridge Indian Reservation where people show signs of poisoning by uranium, arsenic, radioactive lead and other outflows of the mine. All this is denied by the mine and the NRC looks the other way while vigorously defending against any improvements in analysis or disclosure and fighting to show they did the minimal needed to satisfy their regulations which are written to favor the mining industry.
It appears any fool who fills out the forms gets a license to mine uranium out of the aquifers that people would rather use for drinking, bathing, gardening, ranching and agriculture. The entire proceeding is a sham that only gives the appearance of public participation.
Foreign ownership challenges were denied because the NRC only looks to the shell company that operates the mine and not up the chain to the ultimate parent. NRC officials coach mine operators on how to fill out forms and jump through inspections so as to have the least amount of resistance and to ride rough shod over public and tribal concerns.
Hearing procedures are designed to minimize actual fact finding - pleading rules are much more stringent than federal court; no direct or cross examinations of witnesses are allowed and the lawyers are banned from making oral arguments or opening statements. The NRC employee judges are the ones who rule on the NRC staff decisions which are defended by NRC lawyers all for the benefit of the mining company. All proceedings are double teamed (NRC lawyers and mining lawyers) against public intervenors. Any failure to comply with the strict rules is resolved without mercy against the public.
The NRC is the most dangerous and corrupt federal agency only giving the appearance of caring about public safety and in the meantime - like the fox guarding the henhouse - NRC allows horrible pollution from uranium mines in the name of promoting mining and nuclear power. They completely lost sight of the Atomic Energy Act which requires that all licenses be issued only if not inimical to public health and safety and turn a blind eye to any possible problems to public health and safety -
Meanwhile, wells are ruined, people get sick and the environment is being destroyed. All this is so the mining company can make about $30 million in sales per year which is a pittance in the context of American business.
Feel free to email me at for more details.
David Frankel Counsel for Consolidated Intervenors In Re Crow Butte Resources, Crawford NE

You are receiving this email because you are an ally in our struggle to preserve sacredwater

Our mailing address is:
Owe Aku International Justice Project
720 W. 173rd St., #59
New York, NY 10032

Home » Nieuws » * Lakotas verzamelen voor de bescherming van Sacraal Water op 24 augustus 2015
* Lakotas verzamelen voor de bescherming van Sacraal Water op 24 augustus 2015
Toekomst van het water van de grote vlakten onderzocht- hoorzitting van de overheid over de vernieuwing van de vergunning voor de uraniummijn.
Contact: Vic Camp, Owe Aku
Vertaald door NAIS:

De Nuclear Relugatory Commission Atomic Safety (NRC) en de vergunninggevende raad houden een hoorzitting van 24 tot 18 augustus in Crawford, Nebraska.
Zij zullen de bezwaren voor het vernieuwen van de vergunning voor Cameco’s Crow Butte uraniummijn horen.
De raad is het onafhankelijke orgaan binnen de NRC dat optreed als scheidsrechter en besluiten zal geven over de wettelijke bezwaren.
Na een 10-jaar lange strijd tegen vernieuwing en uitbreiding van de uraniummijn zullen deskundigen en advocaten die de lokale inwoners vertegenwoordigen, Native Amerikanen, de Western Nebraska Resources Council en de Oglala Sioux Tribe, de kans krijgen hun getuigenissen af te leggen voor de NRC.

De aanklagers waren reeds tussengekomen in 2008 om een halt toe te roepen aan de vernieuwing van de vergunning.
Er zullen bewijzen voorgelegd worden die , onder andere: de deugdelijkheid van de evaluatie en bescherming van historische bronnen op de site, impact op Native Sacrale sites en de analyses van de NCR over de impact van de maatregelen op het oppervlaktewater, grondwater en het ecosysteem, betwisten.

De raad zal argumenten op vier technische punten horen en vijf die verband houden met de milieuanalyse.
De NCR heeft in afwachting van de hoorzitting de licentie in 2014 vernieuwd met geldigheidsdatum tot :5 nov. 2024 .

Datum : 24/8 tot 28/8 2015- van 9:30- 6pm tot alle getuigenissen zijn gehoord.
Locatie: Crawford Community Center, 1005 1st St., in Crawford, Nebraska

Debra White Plume, een Lakota grootmoeder, Director van Owe Aku (Bring Back the Way) en hoofdaanklager zei:
“ Inderdaad, dit milieuprobleem gaat echt over de grenzen van ras, gebieden, steden en staatsgrenzen- het heeft een impact op alle leven in deze streek, en het kan verder gaan in de volgende generaties van alle levenden dingen: de twee- benige, de vier- benige, de gevleugelde, het staande stille volk (planten), op zij die kruipen en zwemmen, op ons sacraal water, sacraal land, en sacrale lucht.
Voor de Lakota Oyate (Lakota volk) is een zuivere omgeving een zaak op leven en dood.
Ons volk blootstellen aan de dodelijke toxine van uraniumontginning is een bedreiging voor onze overleving als volk....dit is milieu racisme.”

Colleen Bennan, lokale inwoonster en Sisterhood Water Watch medestichtster zei:
“Ik ben geboren in Dawes County, opgegroeid in landelijk Sioux County. Crawford is mijn thuisstad. Vandaag woon ik in Chadron, slechts 24 mijl verder. Ik heb daar nog steeds mijn familie en vrienden, ik ben niet bang in mijn kleine stad. Ik wandel bewust, mijn hoofd rechtop, mijn ogen en oren pen.
Ik verzet me tegen dit buitenlands bedrijf en zijn praktijken. Ik ben niet bang. Ik nodig iedereen uit om naar hier te komen met een open geest.”
Sommigen geloven dat het vervormen van het zuivere karakter van de Black Hills door het te besmetten met uraniummijnen een goede zaak is voor Zuid Dakota. Maar velen zijn er reeds op teruggekomen.
Sommigen dachten dat het buitenlands bedrijf (Azarga/Powertech, hier eenvoudig Powertech genoemd) vanuit Vancouver en Hong Kong een gezonde investering was. Velen en velen zijn ondertussen ruw ontwaakt.
Our mailing address is:
Owe Aku International Justice Project
720 W. 173rd St., #59
New York, NY 10032

Dine' Water Teach-ins Expose Threats and Solutions



Tó Bei Nihi Dziil Teach-In (Water Gives Us Power)
 Community Dialogue Exposes Threats and Highlights Solutions for Diné Water Security

Shiprock, NM – On August 30, 2015, a second People's Teach-in will be held in Shiprock to continue the dialogue toward solutions for long-term Diné Water Security, with a central focus on the San Juan River contamination and the impacted Diné communities.

On August 13, 2015, a People's Teach-In was held at St. Michaels Chapter addressing several critical threats to Diné Water Security. The following day, Arizona Senator John McCain—who represents multiple threats to Indigenous rights and resources—did not receive a warm welcome by a group of Diné and their Indigenous allies in Window Rock, which led to a failed attempt at a closed-door meeting with Navajo Nation government officials regarding the future of Diné waters.

"We are under attack. The U.S. and its agents of settler-colonialism are once again performing a scorched-earth campaign against us. We are fighting for the protection and preservation of our beautiful river systems and the holy beings who reside within them. The preservation of water is the preservation of the Diné," stated Brandon Benallie, one of the Tó Bei Nihi Dziil organizers.

The Tó Bei Nihi Dziil organizers planned a People's Teach-in to highlight the importance of water as a sacred element necessary for life and culture. In order to practice self-determination, restore, protect, and plan for future generations, Diné people are teaching and learning about the various issues pertaining to water rights, water quality and water planning for our communities.

About 70 participants from around Dinétah and surrounding areas attended the first People's Teach-In, which featured presentations on numerous impacts to Diné water security resulting from mining contamination, forest fires, climate change, and outside corporate interests.

"Niléí dęę' dóó díísh jį́įdi t'ó hazlįį' dóó baa ahwíniidzin go dóó baa hąąniidzingo éí nąąsgo ndeelyée dóó chideeniilįįdo. Diné  niidlį́' dii'niigo éí tó béí iiná at'é dóó diniilzin." ("Safeguarding sustainable access to water must involve us to first respect it and acknowledge where it comes from. If we can truly call ourselves Diné, we must also believe that water is a holy blessing,") stated Matthew Thompson of Canyon De Chelly, AZ, who attended the first Teach-In.

Knowing the various threats to our water, the history of Diné water rights, and understanding the political landscape of corporate and government relationships is necessary for localized community empowerment.  In 2012, with education and foresight, Diné communities did not let John McCain and former republican congressmen John Kyl, Jeff Flake, and Ben Quayle pass the Congressional Senate and House Bills "Navajo-Hopi Little Colorado River Water Rights Settlement". The settlement bills were complete failures as they did not gain support of the Diné and Hopi people.

Diné believe that same threat from the 2012 water settlement attempts are surfacing again. Organizers of the Navajo Nation Code Talkers Day did not originally plan for the attendance of Arizona Senator John McCain, Arizona Legislator Carlyle Begay, Arizona Govenor Doug Ducey, or New Mexico Govenor Suzanna Martinez, who are believed to be invited guests of Speaker LoRenzo Bates to meet regarding Diné water rights to the Upper and Lower Colorado River. Again, the people stepped up and did not allow the meeting to take place.

Several attendees of the Teach-in also participated in the demonstrations against McCain wielding signs exposing a deeper understanding of the connection between Navajo Nation Speaker LoRenzo Bates and John McCain, with increased coal mining and further exploitation and desecration of our sacred Mother Earth.

Although the individual who was photographed with McCain and flashed the "Protect Oak Flat" sticker in the online viral photo is not part of Tó Bei Nihi Dziil, he exhibits the awareness of government-corporate collusion and willingness to act that we all must have in order to protect our precious resources.

Tó Bei Nihi Dziil organizers will again bring together presenters and facilitate discussions that will investigate the multitude of harms to our water--including the impacts from the coal, uranium, and petroleum industries--in Shiprock later this month. The agenda will focus more on the collaborative work and community support needed to address the current and possible future issues as a result of the U.S. EPA's breach at Gold King Mine in La Plata County, Colorado and their delivery of oil-contaminated water to the people.

Tó Bei Nihi Dziil organizers are accepting donations for the next Teach-in, for the continued work with the Shiprock community during this emergency, and for future events.

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