Faculty Seminar Advisor




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Since the discovery of the new world there have been conflicts over, and exploitation of, the Native Americans, their lands and their resources. First were the conflicts over living space and access to the land. By the 1830’s, with the discovery of gold and other precious metals on Indian lands, the forced relocation of the Native peoples west of the Mississippi began. Since then there have been waves of prospectors, mining companies and government-funded corporations looking, and finding, valuable natural resources within Indian Territory all over the country. Finally, after the Native Americans had been relocated on seemingly worthless lands in the west, another precious resource was found, uranium. With relocation no longer an option because the American population had now surrounded the Indians and their lands it was decided that mining for this dangerous resource would have to take place despite the Indian populations’ presence. The results of uranium mining shattered the health of Navajo miners and their families and drastically contaminated their environment. This paper will examine the environmental and biological effects of uranium mining during the Cold War on the Navajo peoples in the American southwest as well as the continuing efforts to reclaim their environment in the wake of the United States’ drive towards nuclear superiority.