I don’t know why or how our outsized abuse of Native Americans continues, but it does. Reading books on the Native American experience makes a reader feel like the books must surely belong to the Balkans or an empire of the long past. The truth,however, can not be evaded.
We let politicians and media set our national moral standards, and let them crush any voice other than their own. So we have Judy Pasternak, Yellow Dirt: An American Story Of A Poisoned Land And A People Betrayed.
These leaders flash upon the scene and when they vanish there is no accountability. They have their paychecks, their profits, their stock, and they retire with falsely earned honor. A few are hired to stay on and milk the system.
The Navajos were forced onto the most inhospitable land that could be found in America, and treated as something less than serfs. At least the Russians saw their serfs as productive when properly abused.
Along comes the Manhattan Project and the urgent need for uranium. We were fighting World War II. Moral standards be damned. The rest of the story is told in sharp detail in Yellow Dust.
The story that follows establishes that the university/scientific community can not be trusted in public affairs. State governments were truant. The bureaucrats in Washington and their puppets in Congress were the miscreants. Money, money, and more money ruled. Corporate lawyers in turn protected the monied interests. All was well except for the little people dying of exposure to radiation and arsenic poisoning.
The author has done the research, worked with the people, and come through all of it to present a account of misdeeds and lives lost. It is a profound read.
It is fair to say that most Americans have heard nothing or little of this cluster of tragedies, and in turn will have no sense of how to respond to the book. The only response now is to pledge never to let it happen again. Never let nature be turned against the people whose lives depend upon it. Even if one’s heritage is not included in the genocide, don’t stand aside.
Disrupt your evening. Read the book. Honor America by honoring the continued presence of the Navajos. Charles Marlin