Environmental Studies and American Indians

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If You Poison Us: Uranium and Native Americans

Peter H. Eichstaedt

The supply of uranium that fueled the Cold War came largely from the Four Corners area of the Colorado Plateau. Some of the richest deposits were found on the Navajo Reservation, where about one-fourth of the miners and millers were Native Americans. For nearly three decades in the face of growing evidence that uranium mining was dangerous, state and federal agencies neglected to warn the miners or to impose safety measures in the mines.


Peter H. Eichstaedt is an award-winning reporter who has written extensively on radioactive waste problems and political, cultural, and social issues. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.


"One of several recent publications that reveal the extent to which Americans were poisoned by radiation after World War II, this work describes mining on the Navajo Reservation from the late 1940s and early 1950s and then pursues its consequences into the 1990s. Eichstaedt follows the miners' quest for truth and compensation for widespread radiation contamination. Routinely exposed to radiation far in excess of safe levels and never informed, the miners began dying from mining-related illness within a few years of working in the mines. After long and frustrating battles, Congress finally passed the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act in 1990. Eichstaedt offers a well-documented, emotional account of the plight of the Navajos."


Library Journal

" If You Poison Us effectively combines scientific, political, business, and tribal history, sketching 'how uranium mining began on Indian lands . . . and how its deadly legacy still lingers.' . . . A cogent, powerful report on an unnecessary tragedy."



"In this age of environmental racism, If You Poison Us details a history that must not be repeated. At a time when a new bottom-line-oriented Congress can barely wait to strip away the laws and regulations protecting all of us from toxins, it should be essential reading on Capital Hill. Send a copy to your representative."


The Nation

Published By Red Crane Books

6 x 9 in. 272 pages 32 color and 50 black-and-white photographs