161289 Initiating tribal policy change through community education, environmental health data, and traditional knowledge and practices

Wednesday, November 7, 2007: 1:15 PM

Lynnea K. Smith , Eastern Navajo Diné Against Uranium Mining, Crownpoint, NM
ENDAUM is a community-based, grass-roots organization that was founded to inform community members and policy makers of the hazards of uranium mining and milling and to work to protect the Navajo Nation from future insults to public health and the environment, especially water resources, that may result from proposed new mining and processing. In 2002, ENDAUM and other grass-roots organizations initiated an extensive three-year campaign to inform the Navajo Nation Council about the impacts of past uranium mining on the health, natural resources and traditional cultural fabric of Navajo communities, and the threats posed by proposed new mining operations on the groundwater supplies that many Navajo communities in northwestern New Mexico depend exclusively on for high-quality drinking water. Throughout this effort, ENDAUM and others evoked traditional Navajo teachings about the sacredness of water and the responsibility of humans to protect scarce water supplies in an arid environment. The group's efforts were instrumental in the Council's enactment in 2005 of a ban on future uranium mining and processing in Navajo Indian Country. While ENDAUM is not directly involved in the DiNEH Project study of kidney health in Eastern Navajo Agency communities, data resulting from the DiNEH Project are critical for the continued enforcement of the uranium prohibition and for ongoing education of community members on the health implications of proposed new mining.

Learning Objectives:
1. To gain an appreciation of deeply held Navajo beliefs in the relationship between humans and the natural world, especially the sacredness of water, and the importance of protecting high-quality water supplies from toxic and radioactive contamination in a water-short, arid environment. 2. To learn how grass-roots organizations and community members, using public health and environmental health data in concert with traditional knowledge and practices, can have tremendous influence on public policy, especially at the level of tribal government.

Keywords: Uranium, Native and Indigenous Populations

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Any relevant financial relationships? No
Any institutionally-contracted trials related to this submission?

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.