Colorado blood and Four Corners Uranium: The Utes Say No

Hunter Gray hunterbadbear at
Tue Apr 2 08:35:32 MST 2002

Note by Hunterbear:

"Nothing lives long / Only the Earth and the Mountains,"  was the death song
sung by a Cheyenne leader as the blood-thirsty Colorado militia legions of
Colonel John Chivington [an ordained Methodist preacher] closed in and shot
down at least 450 unarmed Cheyenne and Arapaho men, women, and children at
their village on Sand Creek in eastern Colorado in 1864.  Chivington
defended this hideous, massive atrocity, stating that Indians are "vermin
deserving of extermination" and, on the specific matter of murdering dozens
and dozens of small children, "Nits breed lice." See Dee Brown's, Bury My
Heart at Wounded Knee [New York:  Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1971 -- many
editions]; and Duane Schultz, Month of the Freezing Moon:  The Sand Creek
Massacre [New York:  St. Martin's Press, 1990].

This, of course, presaged the Ludlow Massacre of 1914 in which the Colorado
militia and Rockefeller gunmen murdered many striking multi-ethnic coal
miners [the total number has never really been determined] and at least two
of the strikers' women and eleven of their children -- and, again, in
Colorado, the Columbine Massacre of 1927 when state police machine-gunned
striking coal miners, killing six and injuring dozens.

Among the excellent discussions of the Ludlow tragedy is John Reed's
oft-reprinted "The Colorado War" in John Stuart's nicely done The Education
of John Reed:  Selected Writings [New York:  International Publishers, 1955
and subsequent editions].  On the Columbine atrocity, see Ronald McMahon,
"Rang-U-Tang: The IWW and the 1927 Colorado Coal Strike" in Joe Conlin's At
the Point of Production -- The Local History of the IWW [Westport:
Greenwood, 1982].

Along with the Earth and the Mountains, the Death Aura of uranium lives very
long -- and it lives very lethally as well.  When the uranium mining /
milling / refining saga was beginning with the springtime of the Cold War in
the late 1940s, there was little knowledge nor cognizance of the active and
potentially deadly effects of carnotite [uranium] ore -- once it's
substantially disturbed.  Most uranium in the United States was and is on
and around the vast Navajo reservation [bigger than West Virginia] which
covers much of northeastern Arizona and northwestern New Mexico, and a slice
of southeastern Utah and southwestern Colorado as well.  Native people had
no say in those days when the ever obliging US Bureau of Indian Affairs
ushered the eager, voracious uranium companies [e.g., Kerr-McGee and
Anaconda and Union Carbide and many, many more] onto Indian lands.

And now there are many, many bones -- mostly Navajo, many Laguna, and Anglo
and Chicano also -- under the Turquoise Sky.

Thousands of uranium workers and community people have died, are dying and
will -- and much land and sky have been poisoned for eons to come.  For
background on this, see articles of mine -- e.g., American Socialist
["Navaho Indians:  Oil and Mining Buzzards Hover Overhead"], September 1957;
and Labor Notes,  ["Navajo Uranium Miners Dying of Lung Cancer,"  July 22,
1980] -- at our large social justice Lair of Hunterbear website, at this

The Earth and Mountains -- and the deadly impact of uranium [and nuclear
matters generally] -- continue to live on.  But something has changed.

Native tribal nations now have a great deal to say about who and what "does
business" in their respective settings in and around Indian Country.
Navajos are much united in their increasingly effective opposition to any
further uranium development and doings on  their lands. So are other tribes.

But the Federals and the companies and some other Anglo forces are
pushing -- pushing very hard.

These are boiling issues -- and very much now around what-to-do with huge
quantities of uranium and related nuclear wastes.

As this contemporary article indicates, the Utes of southwestern Colorado
and environs are not about to serve as a dumping ground for thirteen
million -- yes, indeed, that's 13 million -- tons of uranium waste.

Hunter Gray [Hunterbear]

Hunter Gray  [ Hunterbear ]  ( social justice )


Tribe opposes Utah pipeline for uranium tailings slurry

Associated Press
4/1/2002 08:35 am

Colorado's Ute Mountain Utes have opposed construction of a slurry pipeline
carry uranium mill tailings from Moab to near White Mesa.

Reprocessing the radioactive Atlas Uranium Mill tailings is among options
discussion as a way to dispose of tons of material piled beside the Colorado
River. Estimates of the amount of material left by the defunct mill range to
million tons.

One possibility is to build a pipeline to slurry the tailings from Moab to a
uranium mill 85 miles south of Blanding for reprocessing. International
Corp., which owns the White Mesa Mill, has been considering the plan.

The Ute Mountain Ute Tribal Council, based in Towaoc, Colo., recently passed
resolution opposing the construction.

The 82-mile pipeline, which would employ a 10-inch diameter pipe, would end
a site three miles north of a tribal community at White Mesa, said Tom Rice,
director of the Ute Mountain Ute Environmental Department.

"If the slurry line were constructed, the IUC mill would receive
13 million tons of mill tailings,"Rice said.

About 3 million tons could be processed for removal of uranium and the
remaining 10 million tons would be stored, he said.

Tribal council members are concerned about possible impacts to the health
environment of the White Mesa community. They believe the plan would result
little or no economic return, Rice said.

"IUC's proposal stated the removal and transportation of Atlas materials to
(White Mesa) mill would offer many benefits to the community of Moab,
said."However, Tribal Council sentiments indicated that what would benefit
would be at the expense of the White Mesa community."

Another worry was that receiving the tailings for storage could open the
to more radioactive material arriving, turning the area into a storage site
rather than a processing facility."Threats to tribal air and water resources
were also of concern to the council,"Rice said.

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