Enduring Legacies Native Case Studies

Case Study

Blowing in the Wind: The Navajo Nation and Uranium

Author:Jovana J. Brown, PhD and Lori Lambert, PhD, DS, RN

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The Navajo Nation was the site of extensive uranium mining and milling in the 1950’s through the 1980’s.  This mining and milling has left a terrible legacy for the people and the land.  Mine and mill workers were left with illness caused by radiation exposure.  Many of these workers have since died.  Abandoned mine and mill sites on the Navajo Nation continue to expose residents to harmful radiation.  Water supplies have been contaminated.  The Navajo Nation banned uranium mining in 2005.  Yet the menace of new uranium mines in and immediately adjacent to Navajo communities continues to threaten the Navajos. This case examines the history of uranium on the Navajo Nation and looks at the question of how new mining in and immediately adjacent to the Nation could occur. An appendix to the case briefly examines uranium mining on other American Indian lands.

Updated: October 11, 2010