Nuclear Racism: Uranium Mining on the Laguna and Navajo Reservations

By Talia Quandelacy


The world’s largest open uranium mine sits on the Laguna pueblo in Western New Mexico.1 The Laguna Pueblo was one of the largest sources of uranium from when it opened in 1953, to when it closed in 1982. Ura- nium mines proved essential to the successful creation of the atomic bomb and nuclear reactors.2 They were also key components of the health problems and the environmen- tal effects that uranium radiation inflicted on the Laguna Pueblo and its people. This paper will discuss the uranium mines of the Laguna Pueblo and the Navajo Reservation and the relation of these locations to uranium use during the Cold War, the negative health effects of uranium mining, the social implications, and the racial issues surrounding uranium radiation compensation.

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