The Navajo nation has an unemployment rate at about 50%. While the tribe is pursuing investment and job opportunities much of the land under consideration for development is contaminated with uranium from over 500 uncapped mines which deters businesses from investing. The companies who abandoned the mines in the 60s + 70s when the price and demand for uranium dropped aren’t legally bound to clean up their sites per mining laws from the 1800s when prospectors were mining for precious minerals.
Concerned with the possibility of accidental contamination by wandering into abandoned mine sites the EPA created a coloring book for grade school kids on the rez. The star is “Gamma Goat” who introduces himself saying “That’s right. I’m named after the most powerful form of radiation given off by uranium, gamma rays. I know how to stay away from areas where radiation may harm me and I’m here to teach you, your friends and family how to be safe too.” Meanwhile, contamination continues to affect the land, water, animals and humans.
jc at coconino center for the arts
thanks to travis iurato for arranging the wall.