Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

November 8, 2023

New! 'Demon Mineral' film selected for International Uranium Film Festival 2024

In this Dine' family, there were eight horrible deaths.

The Clandestine Operation by the United States Government Meant Death for Dineh in the Uranium Mines

By Brenda Norrell, Censored News, Nov. 8, 2023

French translation by Christine Prat

"They didn't tell us the rock was dangerous. They said they would use it to make weapons, to use against the Asians. But it came back on us."

This is the voice of a Dine' grandmother, speaking in Dine'.

In this Dine' family, there were eight horrible deaths. At the hospital, when the youngest one passed away, the doctors asked the family, "By any chance did you live near a mine?"

The family shares their story in the new film, 'Demon Mineral,' selected for the International Uranium Film Festival 2024.

The secrecy and clandestine operation of the United States government sent Dine' miners to their deaths in the uranium mines on the Navajo Nation. The United States government knew the radiation would kill Navajos, but did not tell them, and sent them into the uranium mines without protective clothing.

Dine' families breathed the dust, and washed the clothes covered with the radioactive dust brought home on the clothes of Dine' miners. Dine' ate the food that they grew in the fields covered with the radioactive dust, as did their livestock.

Dr. Tommy Rock, Dine', is the producer of the film from the lands of Dine' Bikeyah, the Navajo Nation, in what is known as Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. The preview is available at

"From 1944 to 1986, nearly 30 million tons of uranium ore were extracted from Navajo lands. Today the mines are closed, but a legacy of uranium contamination remains, including over 500 abandoned uranium mines as well as radioactive contaminated homes and freshwater springs," said the International Uranium Film Festival, based in Brazil. The global film festival locations have included Window Rock on the Navajo Nation in previous years.

'Demon Mineral,' produced by Hadley Austin in 2023, was selected by the International Uranium Film Festival as one of the first films for its 13th edition at Rio de Janeiro's famous Modern Art Museum (MAM Rio) Cinematheque, May 25 to June 1, 2024. The festival will be in the United States in 2024. The film is nominated for the Munich International Documentary Film Festival Viktor Award.

The cast and crew include the Jones Benally family -- Jones, Clayson, and Jeneda -- and Leona Morgan, Dine', who has spent her life battling the uranium mining in her home region of Church Rock, New Mexico, on the Navajo Nation, the site of the deadliest radioactive uranium spill in U.S. history.

The filmmakers of Demon Mineral said:

A penetrating look at the radioactive desert of the Navajo Reservation suffering from the effects of decades of uranium mining, Demon Mineral paints a devastating portrait of bureaucratic inaction and its long-term impact on human life.

'Demon Mineral' with Dr. Tommy Rock, Dine'

This fascinating documentary, directed by Hadley Austin and produced by Dr. Tommy Rock, employs an array of well-sourced scientific data, coupled with archival and on-the-ground footage, to bring into vivid focus the heartbreaking toll of omnipresent radiation on the Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah Indigenous population.

With few avenues available to offset their suffering — compounded by sustained apathy from politicians who might be able to help — a group of Indigenous scientists, elders, and activists strive to reclaim Diné Bikeyah, the sacred land of the Navajo, and gain compensation for their contaminated lands. The illuminating 'Demon Mineral' is an essential vehicle for those directly impacted by this dire situation to draw attention to their plight. —Zaki Hasan

Read more at the International Uranium Film Festival

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