Hope and Trauma in a Poisoned Land: Uranium Mining on Navajoland
Klee Benally, Dine' filmmaker and musician, said, "Excited to announce my first video short "Poise/End" It will be installed at the Coconino Center for the Arts as part of Hope and Trauma in a Poisoned Land exhibit Aug 15-Oct 28, 2017. (Photos above courtesy Klee Benally.)
Hope and Trauma in a Poisoned Land will explore the impact of uranium mining on Navajo lands and people. The art exhibition will feature work by more than two dozen artists, including Navajo and Native artists. The show opens with a Reception for Arts Council members on Saturday, August 12, 6-8 pm. It will be open to the public August 15 – October 28, 2017.
Through the participating artists, Hope and Trauma will share stories and perspectives from Navajo people of their experiences due to radiation-related impacts to their bodies, their land, their water, their animals, and the natural materials and objects they use in their everyday lives. Art work will be based on a series of interactions, shared stories, and educational programs that took place in Cameron, Arizona, and in Flagstaff, in October 2016. Artists attended a four-day intensive education program which immersed them in the landscape where uranium mining and contamination has occurred on the Navajo Nation. They learned from Navajo community members, scientists, health care professionals, mental health professionals, and other experts about the impacts of uranium mining.
This blockbuster exhibition is funded in part through a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.
From 1944 to 1986, nearly 30 million tons of uranium ore were extracted from Navajo lands. At the time, Navajo miners and residents were not informed of the health impacts of working in the mines, or of the impact on their lands. Many Navajo people have died of kidney failure and cancer from conditions linked to uranium contamination. Research from the CDC shows uranium in babies born now.
More than one thousand abandoned uranium mines are located on the Navajo reservation in northeastern Arizona, Utah and New Mexico. Hundreds are located within fifty miles of Flagstaff near and in Cameron, Arizona. The federal government recently agreed to commit over $1 billion to clean up 94 abandoned mines on the Navajo Nation. The estimated cost to clean up all abandoned mines is likely too large to calculate.
Map of abandoned mines on the Navajo Nation. Click on image for a larger view.
Hope and Trauma in a Poisoned Land is a partnership between the Cameron Chapter House of the Navajo Nation, the Flagstaff Arts Council, University of New Mexico Community Environmental Health Program, and Northern Arizona University.
Project partners followed the established model for art exhibitions that began with Fires of Change. That exhibition also featured a week-long training for participating artists that covered forest and fire ecology, giving artists education insight into the increase in size and frequency of wildfires in the American southwest, with a focus on Northern Arizona. This process ensures that participating artists are educated and informed about the complex issue of uranium mining before they created artwork for the exhibition.
Hope and Trauma will feature several educational events to be scheduled during the run of the exhibition. See the full schedule in the left side column of this page.