The Breach: How the United States Is Poisoning Native American Communities

Lindsay E. Beyerstein

Award-winning journalist Suzette Brewer joins host Lindsay Beyerstein for a wide-ranging discussion of issues facing Native American communities in the era of President Donald Trump. At reservations all over the country, water is being poisoned as toxins from mines seep into the local water supplies. And now the Trump administration wants to dramatically increase drilling on public lands, putting even more tribes at risk.

An edited excerpt:

Lindsay: What an apocalyptic scenario that would be if you’re a tribe, and you’re in somewhere remote, and all of a sudden there’s no potable water because mining has polluted it. What happens then?

Suzette: I can tell you exactly what happens because it happened to the Navajo Nation just two years ago. The Gold King Mine in Silverton, Colorado, exploded, and I think something like 1.6 million gallons of polluted contaminants went into the river and made its way down through Durango, Colorado and into the San Juan River, which goes through the Northern part of the Navajo reservation in New Mexico, and into Arizona.

These are people who have lived along the San Juan River for tens of thousands of years and have relied on that water. In the course of about 24 hours after the spill, their croplands were poisoned. The irrigation canals were poisoned. They still have not recovered from the spills. The Navajo people along the San Juan River are showing signs of lead, arsenic, and mercury contamination along with other pollutants that came out of those mines.

Recommended Reading:

Special election to replace Rep. John Conyers Jr. set for November 2018, by David Weigel for the Washington Post, December 2017

Transcript (PDF)