Friday, May 26, 2006
by Harold J. One Feather
May 27, 2006
First of all, I am a volunteer for the Defenders of the Black Hills and am honored to be one.
P.O. Box 2003 Rapid City SD 57709
My report will be short and will describe to you my goals, objectives and accomplishments as this relates to the Custer National Forest abandoned uranium mines and the extreme health crises in Rock Creek (Bullhead, SD) on the Standing Rock Sioux Indian Reservation.
I call your attention to the issue of extreme genocide and racism against our people occurring in northern South Dakota resulting from the radioactively contaminated abandoned uranium mines in the Custer National Forest. I have been involved in this issue for nearly ten years beginning in 1997 and have conducted an intensive examination of the facts relating to this critical issue.
In the Rock Creek community, there is an increasing rate of health problems: cancer and cancer deaths, miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies, diabetes and kidney diseases, and, sadly, birth defects. I have lost my mother to cancer, my father died of a heart disease, two of my aunts died of cancer, my niece has had two miscarriages and an ectotopic pregnancy; this is my testimony to you, others in the Rock Creek community have the same health problems. That there is an extreme health emergency on the Standing Rock Sioux Indian Reservation is not the question, I ask what can we do about this, for our future generations, for those that have lost our relatives?
As one man with limited resources, I could do nothing, my pleas were routinely ignored although I presented the facts to our tribal leadership, and to my community. Feeling a sense of hopelessness, I almost gave up and would have left my reservation with a guilty conscience knowing that our people are dying needlessly.
I have then asked in 2004 for the help of the Defenders of the Black Hills to deliver this message to concerned individuals and to governmental officials: Our people are dying and are getting sick from the abandoned uranium mines.
To date, the Defenders and I have attended several crucial meetings with the US Forest Service relating to their CERCLA/Superfund remediation actions. I like to think that because of our insistence, they received the $22 million reclamation grant from the US EPA and hopefully will reclaim the mines in the near future. Our next step should be to cause the US Forest Service to consider the extreme health crises on the Standing Rock Sioux Indian Reservation under the CERCLA/Superfund. This will cause the US Forest Service to speed up the Riley Pass abandoned uranium mine reclamation action as well as reclaim the other mines at the South Cave Hills and Slim Buttes. And hopefully this will cause the US EPA to give technical assistance grants to the affected communities and to the Defenders of the Black Hills to have CERCLA/Superfund explained in layman's terms. This way the rights of the people to have a safe environment will assured for future generations of our people.
We must also never forget to make those atomic bombs and nuclear power plants, they, the mining companies, have poisoned our environment and hurt our people, and they must be held accountable for their radioactively contaminated toxic mines. Tronox, formerly Kerr-McGee, must not be allowed any leniency since they have did a very unexcusable crime against our people.
We have also caused the State of South Dakota to initiate their surface water quality monitoring program for the western river basins except for the Bad River and will sample the water for radionuclide contamination. The Defenders must establish their proposed water quality monitoring project to compare these results with the States' results. To do properly implement the project, we will need funds and a budget, a sampling plan, sampling kits and supplies, intensive research on water issues, a quality assurance and assessment policy manual, and maps.
As some of you know I have volunteered to lead the MySpace group "Defenders of the Black Hills" (http://groups.myspace.com/defendblackhills) and have gained the support for several key MySpacers. I have placed four videos on the group main page:
1.) Destruction of the Black Hills;
2.) Riley Pass Mining Spoils;
3.) Picnic Springs; and,
4.) Riley Pass Mine.
I have also included many important links to the uranium issues in our area including several key photographs of the Riley Pass uranium mine. In my photoblog at MSN Spaces (http://spaces.msn.com/uraniummine) I have many more photos and links to this areas newspaper story about the uranium issue. We have 124 members who are very interested in our activities concerning the Riley Pass mine and the others in the Custer National Forest. We have also all worked on a letter that we should all send to the State governor and to our Congress persons.
With the help of John LeKay (www.heyokamagazine.com), we have also established the Silkwood Project (www.silkwoodproject.com) which has interviews from myself, Dr. Helen Caldicott, world-renown nuclear activist; Timothy Benally, Navajo nuclear activist; Doug Brugge, Tufts University nuclear activist; Diane Stearns, Northern Arizona University biochemist, and William Under Baggage, Indigenous Nations Network environmentalist. The site is full of interesting and scary articles about uranium issues. I would highly recommend that everyone read these articles, John is very thorough in his writing and is extremely intelligent; we are very fortunate that he is helping the Defenders by publicizing our fight for environmental protection and for the uranium issue