Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Yellow Dirt: an American story of a poisoned land and a people betrayed

by Judy Pasternak

Interesting, yes. Depressing, oh hell yes. Good book, though, and quite readable.

The author, an L.A. Times reporter, in this book expands her original series of articles investigating the still-lingering tragic effects of uranium mining on the Navajo reservation in the southwest United States. So, yeah, Native Americans... no big surprise they've been effed over, and effed over hard by our government, absolutely derelict in its duty (by treaty) to protect the welfare and interests of the Navajo. First, during the Manhattan Project, the government pretty much did the effing themselves, all but stealing ("renting") the mineral rights and then employing Navajo as miners with no protective equipment, and doing nothing to contain the spread of contaminated soil, dust and water. Then, of course (right?), the government skipped town and turned a blind eye for years to the general injustice and pollution in the first place and to the continuing misbehavior of the private companies that began competing for the precious resource with no thought to the people living on top of it (and in some very tragic cases, living in houses made of it).

Worst part? How recently this bullshit was hapenning (into the '80s for sure) and how little has really been done to redress the harm, even though more positive action has been taken in the last decade than in the previous 40 years of Kafka-esque bungling, evasion and disavowal/shirking of responsibility.

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