your internet resource on facebook on twitter on Google+ on soundcloud
phone: 202 630 8439
Fredericks Peebles & Morgan LLP
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines
Print   Subscribe
Navajo Leader: 'This is an assault on who we are as Dine people'

Filed Under: Environment | Health | Law | National
More on: arizona, colorado, epa, mining, navajo, new mexico, southern ute, tourism, utah, water

Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye and Vice President Jonathan Nez visited the abandoned Gold King Mine in Colorado, the site of a major waste spill. Photo from Facebook

A top New Mexico official vowed to support the Navajo Nation in litigation against the Obama administration as questions mounted amid a multiple state and tribal environmental catastrophe.

At an occasionally emotional session of the Navajo Nation Council on Monday, delegates complained that they still haven't been formally notified by the Environmental Protection Agency about the spill at the abandoned Gold King Mine last week. More than three million tons of waste has entered the water system as the states of New Mexico and Colorado, along with the tribe, formally declared emergencies.

But no one from the EPA showed up at tribal headquarters in Window Rock, Arizona, to explain the situation. A potential call-in via Skype didn't pan out as federal officials instead were attempting to meet with Vice President Jonathan Nez to discuss an incident that has drawn national attention.

The spill at the Gold King Mine in Colorado prompted a release of orange-colored waste into the river system. As the waste continues to head downstream, the color is dissipating but tribal citizens are being warned that the lack of a visible threat does not mean the water is safe to use. Photo from Facebook

"This is an assault on who we are as Dine people," said council delegate Amber Kanazbah Crotty. "They have taken away our ability to grow our own food."

"This is an assault, not just on an economic level, but on on a very emotional, spiritual identity level," Crotty added.

The frustrations were shared by officials from New Mexico who attended the session. Environment Department Secretary Ryan Flynn said he was first notified of the spill not by the federal government but by the Southern Ute Tribe in Colorado.

"I am not afraid to stand up to EPA," Flynn told the council as he indicated he he was willing to support the tribe's litigation or even his own case.

Since the August 5 spill, the tribe has warned citizens not to allow livestock to drink from the San Juan River, enter the river or otherwise use the water from the river due to concerns about extremely dangerous levels of arsenic, metals and other toxins from the mine waste. The drinking water supply in the area, though, has not been affected.

Terry Page, the chief of the fire department in Farmington, New Mexico, flew to Window Rock, Arizona, to brief the Navajo Nation Council about the Gold King Mine spill. Photo from Facebook

"I'm here to assure you that the Farmington water supply is safe," said Terry Page, the chief of the fire department in a city whose system serves several communities on and near the reservation.

At the same time, officials emphasized the need to plan. The city has a 90-day supply of water, Page said, so it is preparing to look for other sources to avoid any contamination from the spill.

The orange-colored waste that flooded through the river system and was pictured in widespread media coverage has begun to dissipate. But that doesn't mean the water can be used for any purpose, tribal leaders were told.

"The stuff we have to worry about we can't see," said Jos Lesscher, also with the Farmington fire department, referring to extremely high levels of chemicals that have been detected in the water since the incident.

Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye and Vice President Jonathan Nez visited the abandoned Gold King Mine in Colorado, the site of a major waste spill. Photo from Facebook

The EPA has released data about the spill and has assigned a cleanup team. Officials also say they are working closely with the Navajo Nation, the Southern Ute Tribe and the affected states on the emergency response.

"We will overcome this tragedy," Navajo President Russell Begaye said after visiting the site.

As the spill travels through the Navajo Nation, it's expected to reach Lake Powell, a major tourism and recreation area further down the river in Utah and Arizona, by tomorrow evening. The Glen Canyon National Recreation Area is warning people not to swim in the water, drink it or engage in any recreational activities.

The Gold King Mine is located San Juan County The waste was being held being some debris before it was accidentally released into the Animas River, which feeds into the San Juan River. Both are a part of the larger Colorado River System, where Lake Powell lies further west.

Related Stories:
Navajo President on EPA: 'They are not going to get away with this' (8/10)

Copyright © Indianz.Com
More headlines...

Latest Headlines:

Trump administration rolls out first rule under historic trust reform law
Interior Department sends out another $13.1M in Cobell buy-back offers
Senate Committee on Indian Affairs headed to New Mexico for hearing
House committee again leaves out Indian Country in hearing on Interior
Mark Maxey: Oklahoma tries to crush Native protesters with new law
Carletta Tilousi: Havasupai Tribe threatened by uranium development
Opinion: Don't be fooled by Jimmie Durham's claims of Cherokee heritage
Opinion: Economic development for Indian Country in upcoming farm bill
Government worker suspended after calling Native principal a 'rabid s----'
Kiowa citizen Tristan Ahtone to report on tribes for High Country News
New York Times features Dina Gilio-Whitaker in editorial on health care
Tribes break ground on monument to their history in Virginia's capitol
Warm Springs Tribes battle large wildfire that broke out behind casino
Spokane Tribe casino doesn't bother Air Force despite claims in lawsuit
Tribes in for long haul as oil continues to flow through Dakota Access
Mark Trahant: Don't plan on getting sick if you're from Indian Country
Tiffany Midge: I shall joke as long as the grass grows and the rivers flow
Director of Office of Indian Energy deletes offensive Twitter account
States cheer decision on grizzly bears amid tribal concerns about hunts
Washington asks high court to overturn Yakama Nation treaty victory
New York Times editorial board reconsiders stance on racist trademarks
Colville Tribes remove council member a week before citizens go to polls
Marijuana firm promises big investments with help of ex-Seminole chair
Lumbee Tribe ordered to release voter list to opponents of chairman
National Indian Gaming Association chooses David Bean as vice chair
Eastern Cherokee citizen promoted to vice president of casino marketing
Tribes in Connecticut waiting on governor to sign bill for new casino
Secretary Zinke removes protections for grizzlies over tribal objections
Court sets final deadline for remaining payments from Cobell settlement
Mary Annette Pember: Indian Child Welfare Act strengthens our families
Peter d'Errico: Navajo authors offer fresh perspective on sovereignty
Native woman was jailed and forced to ride with assailant during trial
Ute Mountain Ute Tribe challenges new permit for uranium operation
Montana tribes get new member of Congress who pleaded to assault
Connecticut tribes welcome court decision favoring new casino law
Pueblo tribes dispute state's demand for $40M in gaming revenues
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe remains confident of approval of casino
Nooksack Tribe accepting slot tickets while casino remains closed
Key House committee under fire for moving slowly on tribal agenda
Tribes go it alone on climate change as Trump team shifts priorities
Bryan Newland: President Trump's budget threatens tribal treaties
Steve Russell: The GI Bill changed the United States for the better
Harold Monteau: Democrats lack proactive agenda, proactive strategy
St. Regis Mohawk Tribe orders 20 non-citizens to leave reservation
Wilton Rancheria accused of working too closely with city on casino
Witness list for hearing on bill to reform the Indian Health Service
Arne Vainio: What does the princess want to be when she grows up?
Doug George-Kanentiio: 'Spirit Game' brings Iroquois lacrosse to life
Cronkite News: Navajo activist vows fight against racist NFL mascot
Eric Hannel: Addressing the health care crisis among Native Americans
Bill for tribal regalia at graduation ceremonies advances in California
Ramapough Lunaape Nation wins reversal of ruling on prayer camp
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe still waits on casino ruling from Trump team
Another former leader of Winnebago Tribe pleads in gaming theft case
Supreme Court ruling poses hurdle for opponents of racist NFL mascot
Change the Mascot campaign responds to negative Supreme Court ruling
Secretary Zinke set for another hearing on Interior Department budget
Mark Trahant: Republicans write health reform bill behind closed doors
Jeff Grubbe: Agua Caliente Band focuses on protecting our groundwater
>>> more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.