Carter Camp: Indian Country is America's waste dump

"Many circumstances within Indian Country make our homelands the target of the purveyers of America’s waste. In my Ponca Tribe we have had to stop a waste well injection system, several toxic waste incinerators, low level radio active waste disposals, and landfills. But we are a small Tribe with a very small land base; the primary targets have been the large reservations like Rosebud with space to conceal these places and mitigate their harm to the people in large cities, those Americans who demand cheap goods but won't allow their waste to be kept close to home. Rosebud is the homeland of the Sicangu Lakota Nation which is the reluctant host to a mammoth pig factory, which (due to a recent Court victory over the Tribe and EPA), is set to become the largest in the world! - with at least 33! massive waste lakes which will cover hundreds of acres of clean earth with a horrible hodge-podge of toxic substances.

The prime reason we present good targets is the extreme poverty and joblessness on our reservations. Poverty creates within the populace a desperation for jobs which is then reflected in their leaders. After standing for election on a platform of economic development, elected officials quickly learn the near impossibility of creating any sizable number of jobs on reservations. Our people were once confined as far away from the American people as possible on as marginal lands as possible and until modern times, we were kept as "wards of the Government". Suddenly our Tribal leaders are charged with the responsibility of creating jobs for the people, without any financial infrastructure or tax base. Add to this the fact that the hungry people are their own relatives, and a vulnerability is created which waste companies are quick to exploit.

Our land base is another large attraction for a waste company. But even for them, our Reservations are usually the last choice of location, they have tried to use land closer to the source of the waste but they have been forced, by the rejection of the American people, to try to locate in Indian Country. The conjuncture of companies in dire need and elected officials desperate for "economic development" is what has put our lands in such jeopardy."

Get the Story:
Carter Camp: Why Indian Country Is Becoming America's Waste Dump (The UN Observer 1/4)

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