Uranium Cuts a Tragic Path Through the Navajo Nation

January 2, 2008

Author: Amy Levek

Source: The Watch


Three coyotes run through the sagebrush, stopping briefly to check us out. Head of the Uranium Education Project at Diné College Perry Charley and I are out in the windswept canyons of the Navajo Reservation, looking at the legacy of uranium mining and its sad and tragic intertwining with Navajo lives and livelihood.

The coyote is the trickster in Navajo lore and culture, ready to show you that things are not always what they seem. It can be a specter of evil, malice and chaos, but also a beneficent figure. Uranium has been a dual presence in Navajo life, as well, first providing jobs in the late 1930s and early 40s, when the people were starving and the economic outlook bleak – and now today, having left in its wake a trail of death, disease and heartbreaking loss, as the Navajo Nation copes with the ravages of uranium mining.