MISSION: Southwest Research and Information Center is a multi-cultural organization working to promote the health of people and communities, protect natural resources, ensure citizen participation, and secure environmental and social justice now and for future generations
Indigenous World Uranium Summit
Southwest Research and Information Center was one of the sponsors of the Indigenous World Uranium Summit (IWUS) held in Window Rock, Arizona from November 30 - December 1, 2006. People from around the world attended and gave testimony about Uranium issues occurring in their communities. We want to share with our readers some of these voices.
From India comes our friends from the Jharkhandis Organisation Against Radiation (JOAR). Attending the IWUS were Ghanshyam Birulee, Dumka Murmu, and Shri Prakesh, who testified about the effects of uranium mining on the indigenous peoples of India. In China, the efforts of Sun Xiaodi to “end the toxic mismanagement corrupting Chinese uranium production” were honored. Human Rights in China representative Feng Congde attended and presented a short film on Xiaodi’s work. And from Canada came a variety of First Nations representatives, discussing past and current work to deal with the aftermath of uranium mining on their lands.
Other testimony we have for this issue focuses on some national efforts. Deb Abrahamson from the SHAWL Society in Washington state made a presentation. Also attending the IWUS was Carrie Dann of the Western Shoshone. We have excerpts from her and Julie Fishel, their attorney, discussing some of the issues regarding Native land rights and the nuclear state.
Locally, Laura Watchempino from Acoma Pueblo made a compelling statement about water issues and Native Lands/sacred sites. Her words are included in this issue. Also included in this issue are some statements by Navajo leaders – grassroots and governmental – about the Diné Natural Resources Protection Act and about studies currently being conducted surrounding the health effects of past uranium mining.
This is only a small sampling of voices from the Indigenous World Uranium Summit. We will publish more selected statements from the Summit in the Summer issue – voices from Australia and Brazil, in addition to more statements from Laguna, Acoma and Navajo miners and millers. Many people will ask, why are we printing so many of these statements? Because these voices deserve to be heard, and if we don’t publish their words, who will?
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"We’re here to talk about what we can do to save the world from nuclear proliferation. Our world, we’ve come to find out, is very small. It’s not as big as we once thought. It is an almost impossible task to save the world from nuclear proliferation, but in my way of life, the Diné way of life, we believe that there are no impossibilities. Although it seems like there are only a handful of us here trying to make a stand against nuclear proliferation, the task is not impossible. It all starts when we come together from all corners of the world, like we are doing here this week. We can start by coming to the realization that we are all on the same side. We are all members of the five-fingered intelligent earth dwellers called homosapiens, human beings. It doesn’t matter the color, the creed. We’re all earth dwellers here, in this world."
The Honorable Joe Shirley, Jr.
President of the Navajo Nation
Address to the Indigenous World Uranium Summit, November 30, 2006