Sixty years ago, the United States turned to the tiny atom to unleash the most destructive force known to mankind and bring an end to World War II. Ironically, the uranium used to create the most technologically advanced weapon ever invented came from the land of the most traditional indigenous people of North America, and was dug from the earth with picks and shovels...Lost in the history of this era is the story of the people - the Dine - who pulled uranium out of the ground by hand, who spoke and continue to speak an ancient tongue...By the thousands, these were, and remain, the forgotten victims of America's Cold War that uranium spawned. ""The Navajo People and Uranium Mining"" is the documented history of how these Navajo people lived, how they worked and now, sadly, how they died waiting for compassionate federal compensation for laboring in the most hazardous conditions imaginable, and which were known at the time yet concealed from them. These Navajo miners and their families became, in essence, expendable people.
Doug Brugge is associate professor of community health at Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston. Timothy Benally, a bilingual Navajo, is retired director of the Office of Navajo Uranium Workers and the Uranium Education Center, Dine College, Shiprock, New Mexico. Esther Yazzie-Lewis is a bilingual Navajo and recently completed her master's degree in American studies at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque. Stewart L. Udall served as U.S. Representative for Arizona and Secretary of the Interior under presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson.