Here at International Film Festival at Navajo Nation Museum in Window Rock, Ariz. Tomorrow is last day of festival, which is being live streamed at:
FORGOTTEN PEOPLE PRESIDENT DON YELLOWMAN
Uranium in western Navajo reservation has abandoned mines and the impact is contamination of water wells from arsenic. So our small communities that are remote are assisted by Forgotten People. With uranium issues, it’s a family matter. East of Tuba City is area called Rare Metals, where there was a mill and huge tailings pile that is not covered. I went there as teen ager with group of college students researching abandoned uranium activities. My mom was very much involved in getting that area cleanup. But it takes grassroots organizations to raise a ruckus. My mom said that when she took Council members to Rare Metal place where children playing, livestock grazing, community nearby. Council members said nothing wrong, there are signs. So she went to media and brought in international attention. That is our relationship with our Navajo government. Black Falls community has lot of abandoned sites, lot of drilling holes that covered with wooden peg and allows contamination from rain runoff and livestock walk over and fall in. My relationship with Stephen improving. We are communication. But I think there is still need for huge improvement. And there is nothing wrong with telling public the truth. Black Falls contamination: we invited NEPA Lilly Lane and others out there and created water delivery project and expanded to Tuba City and Gap-Bodaway. That is good. We are making progress. Also thank US EPA. We had huge conference with US EPA at Tuba City. Those kinds of activities allow community to talk directly to US EPA. And Hopi neighbors also now getting concerned over Rare Metal site cuz of their water wells/underground water. Hopis concerned that uranium plume moving towards them. I want to also mention that in area of legislation: We talked to Congressman in Phx for bill to strengthen cleanup and good meeting. Met with Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick. she supports and wants to be co-sponsor of that bill. And also with new Uranium Commission, that is steps forward long overdue and it is next level of working relationship with Navajo government. Forgotten People have also supported more community involvement. Talked with Tuba City residents who didn’t even know that cleanup in their area. So need better job of informing people of cleanup, cost, remediation process, etc. this much dirt used to cover and how water impacted. Like nice powerpoint presentation. We asked Congressman Grahala for funding for education, public awareness/involvement – a serious effort to reach public so pple really know what is gong on. Cameron has huge erosion, big gullies. Can we get Geiger counter to take readings and if high then wat next? So there is lot of work and as I see it, it is a communication issue and that is what we emphasized with new legislation, federal and tribal, that will stimulate that. It was great that in April there was Uranium Stakeholders Meeting. Talked with federal officials over transparency in federal dollars that goes to Navajo government, how decisions are made by Navajo government, how Navajo government identifies priority. The people need to know and be involved. We are eager to have that opportunity to be at decision making table. If do then pple buyin and they want to be active/participate and they feel like they are part of community. That is where Forgotten People coming from – to stimulate that excitement.