How the US poisoned Navajo Nation

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How the US poisoned Navajo Nation 5
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The biggest radioactive spill in US history.

As World War Two was ending, the growing nuclear arms race put the US in need of uranium. It turned to Navajo Nation, where the uranium mining industry thrived for four decades -- but left disease, pollution and the biggest radioactive spill in US history.

That spill in Church Rock, New Mexico upended the lives of nearby residents, who had to grapple with toxic water, livestock and a lifetime of illnesses. Now, they are still waiting for it to be cleaned up.

Note: The headline for this piece has been updated.
Previous headline: The biggest radioactive spill in US history














💬 Comments
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Yet another event that was washed from history and most people haven’t heard about. It’s sad that a YouTube channel has taught me more than our schools. Thank you Vox for showcasing these events and stories.

Author — HoennMaster

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"They don't see us as human beings. We're disposable."

A story as old as time...

Author — Cid Matrix

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I wish I was surprised. I'm heartbroken, but not surprised.

Author — Lili Gaede

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Chernobyl disaster : USA omg so sad communism bad.
Navajo disaster: USA

Author — Burhannuddin Electricwala

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The US government owes the Native Americans more than apologies, more than money, and more than empty promises. How can the government right all the wrongs that have been done to the Native Americans? And why has nothing, or not enough, been done?

Author — latonya green-warner

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Poisoning your land and asking you to relocate outside Native territory sounds an awful lot like forced assimilation to me...

Author — Titouan Paitier

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I'm Navajo and I was unaware of this chapter in Navajo history. Like WHAT?! I'm learning this through a YouTube video. This story infuriates me. Thank you Vox, for covering this story. 🧘🏽‍♂️

Author — Lyric Malo

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I feel so sad for the native people residing there, they were simply used as tools by the government and were not even taken care off, hope they get the justice they derseved

Author — Pandurang Gireesh

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It's sad that nothing shocks me anymore. I just get angry. These people didn't deserve this and our government punished them with silence. Our politicians and leaders don't care about us, or the presentation of our government to everyone else. Every election feels like a cruel game where America has to choose the lesser of two evils. It's time to change that arrangement. It's morally unsustainable.

Author — The Trainmobile

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I wrote a paper about this back when I was in college years ago. Never turned in a final draft because I got so caught up in all the data and research, because there’s tons. It just amazed me that I grew up on the Navajo Nation and I hadn’t even heard of the spill before. It became too real when I asked some of my uncles and they said they had worked for uranium companies when they were younger. Nice to see this topic get some widespread attention on YouTube.

It’s easy for kids out my ways to run around all day in the desert and find all sorts of things. There’s reports of kids who did just that back then and would come home covered in yellow uranium dust because they were playing in what they thought was “yellow sand”.

Author — S019978

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I honestly hate how unaccountable the US government is :(

Author — Maxwell James

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This doesn’t sadden me, it enrages me.

Author — Flashstar 123

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I haven't watch the whole video yet but let me guess. A bunch of private companies came, take all of the profit, and make the public paid the consequences.

Edit: Oh I was right. Classic American capitalism.

Author — Mochi The PooH

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This was after the Navajo Code Talkers helped the US and Allies win WW2 and this how the UNited States repaid them. With poison.

Author — Ryan McDowell

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They did the same to Apache, Commanche, Cherokee, Chicasaw, Creek, Seminole, Choctaw, And other nations too

Author — matthew mann

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The more I learn about America's past, the more it looks like Russia to me

Author — Cassi C

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Share. Every one needs to see this.
Disgusting.
US industry needs to be pay reparations.

Author — MrChillerNo1

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Mining is the sleaziest, filthiest business of 'em all. They NEVER clean cheaper to close the mine, declare bankruptcy, and change the company name. This is why we should ALL oppose the proposed Rosemont Copper mine in Southern Arizona. It's on OUR federal land. Call your Congressperson today!

Author — Upright Ape

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FmL, america is so frustratingly evil and Careless on ALL sorts of levels

Author — Txddy Farquh

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As a Young Navajo I struggle to learn about my culture only through my family I can gain some insight even then their knowledge is limited ...

If they're getting away with this how much other stuff are we not being told?

Thank you for sharing this

Author — KrazyKai