Womanhood – an acceptable trade-off for doing business?

Womanhood – an acceptable trade-off for doing business?

Support our journalism. Become a Patron!
John Ahni Schertow
June 17, 2007
 

In the last couple generations, the neoliberal economic model—along with the very handy belief system it contains—has been bleeding into the lives and ways of Indigenous People in North America. Of course we see it happening in many places around the world, but nothing compared to the frequency and extent it is happening on this land; specifically among those who lead/govern/manage the people.

In many cases there is an immeasurable cost attached to doing business like this. Sometimes, a Tribal Council will alienate and banish people from the Nation; other times, they’ll sell a Nation’s Sovereignty on the first incoming bid…. And on occasion, the cost of doing business will translate into no less then an act of genocide.

On Navajo land for example, the loss of Womanhood has become an exchange for doing business, because in part of the pollution caused by facilities like the Four Corners Power Plant and the San Juan Generating Station (primary factors).

According to a recent article by Mike Einsfeld these two facilities alone have already emitted over 2000 pounds of mercury into the atmosphere….

There is now another power plant in the works—the Desert Rock Power plant— which promises to release an additional (minimum) 117 pounds more mercury into the air every year.

A quick Intro to Heavy Metal Poisoning
A few times on this site now I’ve mentioned ‘heavy metal poisoning’ without ever going into any detail. Now I think it’s appropriate to give a primer, focusing particularly on Mercury…

Mercury, Plutonium, Uranium, Copper, Arsenic, Nickle, and Lead (among others) are considered to be heavy metals, and each of them are extremely toxic in their own right. (Aluminum, although not a heavy metal, is also highly toxic.)

Mercury itself has a long list of toxic effects, But let’s just look at the more serious few:

“Exposure over long periods of time or heavy exposure to mercury vapor can result in brain damage and ultimately death. Mercury and its compounds are particularly toxic to fetuses and infants. Women who have been exposed to mercury in pregnancy have sometimes given birth to children with serious birth defects.” “Mercury exposure in very young children can also have severe neurological consequences.” (from Wikipedia)

Mercury is just one of the toxins Navajo People are being exposed to—at higher levels than most in the US, I suspect.

Proponents of Desert Rock have been diligent in minimizing this–along with any suggestion that the array of health-related problems facing the Navajo People today are in any way caused by these power plants. It’s all because of nature, they say.

Regardless of that non-sense, if enough pressure can be put on Navajo President Joe Shirley and the Navajo Tribal Council to say NO to Desert Rock, then atleast the level of poisoning can be stayed.

Of course, more than this needs to happen over time, especially since this type of poisoning is something that’s handed down to the next generation—-but if there’s no more coal being added to the fire (so-to-speak) then the Navajo People can begin focusing on long-term, preventative solutions like perhaps converting these power plants to utilize sustainable forms of energy. I mean, the crude and desperate ways energy is produced, is on the way out anyways.

But even if that’s not true, why inflict such harm onto your own people, just for the sake of money? Is this the other legacy the Navajo want handed down to the next generation? That as long as you can make some money out of it, anything goes?

I would like to think this would be the last thing anyone would want to give to them — nevermind neurological disorders, cerebral palsy, autism, permanent nerve damage, and sterility in the children, adults, and elders of today.

You can help out by writing letters to those listed here, and by signing this petition

 

Women bear brunt of uranium, power plant contamination

Found on desert-rock-blog.com c/o angryindian.blogspot.com
The lives of Navajo women are in the hands of our president, Mr. Joe Shirley. How? We live in a generation where there are more health problems associated with uranium dumpsites, uncovered mines and the ongoing problem of power plants that surround our Navajo Nation.

Everyday there are more women who are diagnosed with some form of reproductive cancers in the areas where the problem of power plants are within a 30-mile radius.

The age for many of these women are under the age of 30. They have not even begun to realize their role as Navajo women at this age when they are faced with fertility problems, hysterectomies and reproductive cancers.

As we talk and discuss the biggest problem now is the building of the newest most efficient energy saving power plant, Desert Rock, which is an underground plan from the U.S. government to realize their dream of making the Navajo more dependent on them for economic stability.

This power plant will release unclean air disguised by their fancy words as state of the art and clean and safe in the form of mercury (a toxin given off by power plants generated by coal).

Another problem is uranium dumpsites and tailings seeping into the groundwater. Growing up in Shiprock for more than 15 years I lived within a 30-mile radius of two power plants and one uranium dumpsite within a short walking distance. This covered dumpsite is on the east side of the Fairchild building.

I was 23 years old when I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and was told that my body underwent a form of genetic mutation and created more estrogen which is harmful at a high level making my body more susceptible for cells to develop cancer.

I underwent a 13-hour surgery to remove one ovary and several lymph nodes that were infected. I am now 34 years old and am in the early stages of menopause.

Is this normal? Is this right? After researching this problem after being told that estrogen plays a huge part in reproductive cancers the risk becomes even greater in the area where there are high pollutants such as power plant toxins and uranium.

I personally know a young mother at the age of 25 who was also diagnosed with ovarian cancer and the solution for her was removing her womanhood, an unborn child’s sanctuary. She had a hysterectomy.

There is the problem of infertility, another young woman whom I personally know was not able to conceive for more than six years, undergoing fertility treatments was unsuccessful but through her own faith she was blessed with a child.

The above three women, including myself, all grew up in Shiprock. The added fear of having Desert Rock blowing up steam generated by what they say is safe is not.

The women that are living in the surrounding areas of Desert Rock, BHP and APS are at risk now more than ever. Their daughters and their own daughters will be more at risk of developing a reproductive/breast cancer or being a carrier.

The problem of mercury released into the air is not only affecting the women but the unborn children who have a greater chance of developing some sort of birth defect or mental incapacity hindering their lives with more difficulties.

Where do the problems of respiratory problems stop? It doesn’t, it will be an ongoing problem as more babies will suffer from respiratory conditions and have chronic asthma.

The issue is not employment or money, it is about the quality of life, that is what being Din? is all about.

When the Navajo Nation leaders who we have elected into office are willing to subject our lives into fearing if our daughter or ourselves will suffer from the black skies you paid for it is a sad day.

Where is the unity that our grandfathers and grandmothers fought so hard for? We are here because they stood up and died so we could live in a place where our decisions will be based on and decided on as a family.

They did not endure the Long Walk to have it literally thrown back in their face as our leaders foolishly decide to perform genocide on their own people.

(Read the Full Article)

We're fighting for our lives

Indigenous Peoples are putting their bodies on the line and it's our responsibility to make sure you know why. That takes time, expertise and resources - and we're up against a constant tide of misinformation and distorted coverage. By supporting IC you're empowering the kind of journalism we need, at the moment we need it most.

independent uncompromising indigenous
Except where otherwise noted, articles on this website are licensed under a Creative Commons License
IC is a publication of the Center for World Indigenous Studies (cwis.org), a 501C(3) based in the United States