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Joe Shirley Jr.

In April, Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley Jr. signed legislation that banned uranium mining and processing on any sites within Navajo Indian Country. For forty years, companies mined for the radioactive element on Navajo lands, leaving behind contaminated sites and abandoned mines.

Q: What led you to ban uranium mining on Navajo land?

Joe Shirley Jr: It has killed so many of our people. We mined uranium for the U.S. government, but it didn't warn us about the dangers. Only after it created the atom bomb did officials tell us there were some dangers with mining uranium. My people started catching cancer and started dying off. There's no cure for the cancer that it causes, so I vowed when I was campaigning that if I were elected I would work on the banning of further mining of uranium on Navajo land.

Q: Hydro Resources, Inc., has been working with the Nuclear

Regulatory Commission to get approval for mining near the Navajo communities of Crownpoint and Church Rock, New Mexico. What are you planning on doing if Hydro Resources shows up in Crownpoint and starts drilling?

Shirley: We have our law enforcement. We have about 350 strong. That's one way to address the matter. It is Navajo land, and we intend to defend it.

Q: Are you afraid that you will scare away contractors from other industries that are interested in doing business with the Navajo people?

Shirley: The business world knows where the Navajo Nation is coming from when it says it doesn't want the mining of uranium anymore. That mining has killed too many of our people. It's not your regular profit-making venture. So I don't think it will make a difference how the Navajo Nation defends itself against Hydro Resources or Strathmore Minerals. I don't think it will scare anyone away.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Q&A
Author:Pascarella, Matthew
Publication:The Progressive
Article Type:Interview
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2005
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