The worst mass shooting in recent years. Escalating threats of nuclear war. Catastrophic hurricanes. Calamities and fear rock the nation these days. Meanwhile, public servants are chartering private jets, and the president’s frenzied tweetstorms create yet more chaos and division. As the tweeter-in-chief seeks sycophantic praise (or anything to divert our attention from Robert Mueller’s accelerating investigation), serious policy changes have been proposed, or are underway, in numerous aspects of American life.
For an update, Rural America In These Times spoke to Native Americans—people whose survival requires being extremely well informed about what all branches of the federal government are up to. From their vantage point as sovereign entities with direct government-to-government relationships with the United States, the tribes have a unique perspective on issues including voting rights, the economy, the extractive industries’ hold over this administration and more.
In each case below, they explain how powerfully and comprehensively this administration’s misguided policies would impinge on each and every one of us. After all, “everything is connected,” as Timbisha Shoshone Tribal Historic Preservation Officer Barbara Durham puts it.
Fire on the mountain
Kim Jong-un can relax! We have already nuked ourselves and are looking into a great way to poison ourselves even more with radioactive waste. In June, Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Rick Perry suggested using the Nevada National Security Site, aka the Nevada Test Site, as an interim waste dump and at the same time reopening licensing procedures for nearby Yucca Mountain. Under Perry’s plan, the mountain, revered as a sacred site by area tribes, would eventually become the permanent repository for spent nuclear fuel and other radioactive material.
The waste would travel via roads and railroads through communities throughout the country as it made its way to Nevada. Once it arrived, its home would be deep inside the earthquake-prone mountain. The DOE’s Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the project admits that Yucca Mountain may be shaken by “ground motion” and that “beyond-the-design” events could collapse the waste facility.