All the people we met on our first day I would like to say thank you to each and every one of you—Edward Madrlee whom spoke about wildlife; Bill Matt Sr., whom spoke about salmon and the environmental aspect of the lands; Chad McRay, whom spoke about the objective of timber/wildlife; Twa-le Swan, whom spoke about the uranium filled pools on their reservation; to Jim Seylor “Jimbo”, who educated us on historic places on the reservation; and to the Interns of Natural resources. Thank you to the whole Spokane Tribe for opening your door to us, and educating us on Spokane’s difficulties and solutions to them. Last but not least Warren and his lovely wife Lisa Seyler thank you for sharing with us, you have inspired me to finish my BA in Criminal Justice and move straight into law school. I truly pray the Creator will bless you and bring back the salmon to your tribe, and that he blesses you with a uranium free reservation. Aho…
The Spokane Tribe is located in the Northeast part of Washington State on the Wellpinit reservation and is 159,000 acres. There is about 2,817 enrolled members of the Spokane Tribe. With many tribes, people tend to think Treaties; however, this is not the case here. Spokane is known as an executive order Tribe. This came to a surprise to me as well. They still have rights as any tribe but the only difference is they go through the State President.
Mission Statement of Natural Resources
Preserve, protect, manage and enhance the long term sustainability of the Natural Resources for present and future generations, through an interdisciplinary process by developing and implementing Best Management Practices.
On the Spokane reservation there is two uranium pools. There is a cleanup plan that is still pending agreement. “The Midnite Mine operated from 1954 to 1964, and again from 1969 to 1981. As a result of the mining operations, 350 acres of land were disturbed, and numerous waste rock piles and two open mine pits are still present at the site.” As stated on Environment News Service. I also witnessed the two mine sites, they are still there.
The mining company did not have the Tribes agreement to utilize their land but forced upon them. In the 1950s, the Bureau of Indian Affairs signed a government license with the Dawn Mining Company to extract the minerals/uranium on the reservation.
None the less, the tribe has been exposed to this devastating poison over 60 years. The definition of uranium is a heavy, silvery-white, highly toxic, radioactive metallic element of the actinide series. It has 14 known isotopes, of which U 238 is the most naturally abundant, occurring in several minerals. Fissionable isotopes, especially U 235, are used in nuclear reactors and nuclear weapons. Atomic number 92; atomic weight 238.03; melting point 1,132°C; boiling point 3,818°C; specific gravity 18.95; valence 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. Basically it’s a toxic mixture of radioactive uranium from under the mine and mixed with heavy metals and iron pyrite compounds that react to form sulfuric acid.
Currently there is substantial runoff at Ford Mill site, meaning 2 plumes (holding tanks) are leaking uranium into small streams that flow toward the Spokane River of Lake Roosevelt a short distance away. This means not only the Tribal members are being exposed but residents in the surrounding area are being exposed. This water is being used to water crops, house fish, and also recreation use.
There were stories of how the mining company would only hire people over child baring age, because uranium causes any individual incapable of reproduction. There were no training on the proper disposal, no radiation suits, and no information on uranium in the 50’s. The people who were hired were the Spokane Indians.
There is a concern for continued exposure of a radioactive gases this cause’s lung cancer among other serious ailments. This is where it gets tricky; the gases formed can seep into the ground or perhaps turn into a powder substance—when this happens the wild life will ingest this. So when the Spokane Tribal member practices their hunting rights, and process the meat, hide, ect. they will be eating, breathing, and touching the radioactive residue; thus, leading to prolonged exposure.
However, The Spokane Tribe is taking this company to court for proper disposal and holding the company responsible for previous actions. The estimated cost for cleanup is 160 million dollars.
I will continue to follow the progress of the Spokane Tribe, in hopes there will be a positive outcome for the people. They have my full support.
Please take a look at this.