Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

February 7, 2023

The Napalm Burn Pit at Fallon

                F/A-18A Hornet armed with 77 napalm bombs NAS Fallon, Nevada in June 1993

The Napalm Burn Pit at Fallon

By Brenda Norrell
Censored News
Feb. 7, 2023

FALLON PAIUTE-SHOSHONE LAND -- The Navy Seals burned Napalm in burn pits at the Naval Air Station Fallon. The facts are buried in the investigations surrounding a cluster of childhood leukemia in Fallon in central Nevada. The facts are revealed now because a new database exposes another fact: The Navy bombing range has four Native remains that have not been repatriated, as required by law.

"Burning was accomplished by placing napalm canisters in the pit where they were axed open, saturated with diesel fuel and ignited." The Napalm burn pits were used at Fallon from 1963 until the 1980s.

The report for remediation from Oak Ridge describes the Napalm burn pit at Fallon:

The description of the Napalm burn pits at Fallon is in a report created to remediate the damages done by the military's long-term destruction here. The report was contracted at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in 1991. It stated ways to remediate the damage done by toxic dumping and landfills.

Oak Ridge -- the secretive site of the atomic bomb industry in Tennessee -- was itself built on a Native burial ground, the Freel Found Mound Site Oak Ridge, the ancestral homeland of the Cherokee.

Oak Ridge was part of the Manhattan Project and processed uranium into plutonium for the atomic bomb during World War II -- which links it to the United States nuclear holocaust for Paiute and Shoshone in Nevada.

The Oak Ridge report points out that the contaminants at the Fallon bombing range are from deliberate disposal activities, both through dumping and landfilling, and accidental spills and leaks over the lifetime of the bombing range. 

Sand Spring Mountains Photo by Basin and Range Watch

Paiute Journalist Myron Dewey: Last Live Stream from Bombing Range

The Fallon bombing range is the range where Paiute journalist Myron Dewey live-streamed the day before he was killed on an isolated road in the land of his childhood home in Yomba. Myron became known around the world during his reporting and drone surveillance of TigerSwan and other security contractors in Standing Rock, North Dakota, during the resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Myron died at the site of the impact, almost three hours after a truck pulled into his lane and hit his car head-on the day after he live-streamed. 

Myron Dewey

Myron opposed the expansion of the bombing range and its destruction. Nevada Congressmen spent years trying to push the expansion through Congress, and succeeded when Biden signed the Defense spending bill in December, which nearly triples the size of the bombing range.

The expansion means 872 square miles more of bombing, ground live fire and electronic warfare using high levels of microwave to halt missiles.

Myron Dewey's live stream at Fallon bombing range, showing an Avenger,
the day before his death.

"This is what we survived," Myron says from the land where he grew up.

Myron described the loss of sacred places, how the Navy disregarded the Paiute and Shoshone community with its flyovers, the destruction of the mining industry, the loss of water from mines, and deforestation. He said they were no longer able to hunt because of the bombing range. He described the murder, rape and genocide of the military.

I'm a survivor of a mass genocide across the United States which I can articulate."

Myron warned of the power and greed and said the words are for his grandchildren.

"We have survived and we are still here."

"It can change."

Myron warned of the lithium mining planned for the Paiute Massacre Site at Thacker Pass in northern Nevada.

"Take a breath," he said, "Take a moment and appreciate what you have."

Herds of Pronghorn antelope (Antilocapra americana) inhabit the basins taken over by the military for new bombing ranges. (Photo: Kevin Emmerich)

The military bombing destroyed Paiute's sacred Medicine Rock

The Fallon Paiute people were created in a spring between two peaks, called the Mother and Father, in the Stillwater mountains standing firm over Dixie Valley, according to the tribe’s creation story, as shared by the Nevada Independent.

“There was a mother and father that were right there — the people’s father, the people’s mother,” said Rochanne Downs, the tribe’s historic preservation officer. “I know I was created from mud.”

The tribe suffered a great loss when those peaks were destroyed by the military as part of World War II-era bombing tests, in addition to Medicine Rock, where Paiute healers went to gather medicines for the sick in their community. According to a spokesperson with the communications firm that has been working with the tribe, the Navy targeted Medicine Rock because of its size and location, destroying it over time with munitions dropped on and around it during training exercises.

“We’ll never have those back again,” Downs said.

Military training at Fallon Naval Air Station in 2003. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Childhood leukemia cluster in Fallon

In the midst of this destruction in Fallon, three children died from a leukemia cluster in the early 2000s. Nine children were diagnosed with acute childhood leukemia in the year 2000 alone. There were sixteen cases of childhood leukemia over a six-year span.

The CDC concluded that there were elevated levels of arsenic in the water, and elevated levels of tungsten and pesticides present in Fallon. However, no the CDC said that no conclusions were reached in regard to the cause of the childhood leukemia cluster, according to the CDC's executive summary in 2003.

Land Grab, Water Grab -- Bighorns, Pronghorns and Eagles

The Center for Biological Diversity points out that the expansion means 500,000 more acres of public land will be used for bombing ranges and military exercises.

Here, there are snow-capped mountain ranges and broad, sagebrush-filled basins. They’re rich in wildlife, including desert bighorn sheep, pronghorn antelope, golden eagles and greater sage-grouse.

“This is a dark day for the public lands and wildlife of central Nevada,” said Patrick Donnelly, Great Basin director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “I’m outraged that Nevada’s senators are helping the military seize control of hundreds of thousands of acres of irreplaceable public land.”

The expansion means more military airplane activity above Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge, an essential stopover on the Pacific flyway and a Western Hemispheric shorebird reserve. The refuge is dense with bald eagles, tundra swans and shorebirds such as American avocets and long-billed dowitchers. The increased overflights will disturb the birds as they stop to rest on their long migrations.

"The bill also includes a backdoor authorization for the Dixie Valley water grab, a proposed project that would suck water out of remote Dixie Valley and pipe it 50 miles to Fallon to fuel unsustainable growth. This project was recently cited by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as a factor contributing to the endangered species listing of the Dixie Valley toad."

“Sen. Cortez Masto and Sen. Rosen have sold out Nevada’s public lands and wildlife,” said Donnelly. “They talk the talk about conservation, but when push comes to shove, they’re apparently willing to sacrifice our shared national heritage on the altar of the ever-expanding military-industrial complex.”

Who is responsible

The expansion of the Navy bombing range is a land withdrawal authorization in the National Defense Authorization Act 2023, passed by Congress and signed by Biden. It was a moment of celebration for Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) and Jacky Rosen (D-NV), and Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV.) They included in their support Gov. Steve Sisolak, Churchill County Chairman Pete Olsen and Fallon Mayor Ken Tedford, according to the Nevada Independent.

Public Health Assessment 2003: The Napalm Burn Pit

(Below) Report prepared for Oak Ridge showing Fallon bombing range 1991


U.S. Defense Department Harbors Thousands of Native Remains, including Four at Fallon Bombing Range, by Censored News. Database by ProPublica.

Driver Charged in Death of Paiute Journalist Myron Dewey
by Censored News

U.S. Department of Energy
Naval Air Station Fallonvast majority of contaminants of concern are petroleum hydrocarbon related. These contaminants include JP-4, JP-5, leaded and unleaded gasoline, waste oils and lubricants, hydraulic fluids, and numerous solvents and cleaners. 

Nevada Independent
As Navy and Development Close In, Fallon Tribe Seeks Protection for Sacred Land
By Jazmin Orozco Rodriguez Nevada Independent

CDC executive summary childhood leukemia in Fallon

Center for Biological Diversity: Massive Land Grab

About the author

Brenda Norrell has been a news reporter in Indian country for 40 years, beginning at the Navajo Times during the 18 years that she lived on the Navajo Nation. She was a correspondent for Lakota Times, Associated Press and USA Today. After serving as a longtime staff reporter for Indian Country Today, she was censored and terminated and created Censored News. She has a master's degree in international health focused on water, nutrition and infectious diseases.

Article copyright Brenda Norrell, Censored News. May not be used without written permission.

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