Navajo Nation


The Navajo Nation has faced, and continues to face, ongoing nuclear and extractive development assaults on their lands, bodies, and communities. Uranium mining for the Manhattan Project and Atomic Energy Program has left Navajo lands and waters contminated with radioactivity. Non-Indian-owned mining companies exploited Navajo labor, installed Navajos in the least protected and lowest-paid jobs as miners.[1] The United States' largest nuclear waste spill occurred in the Navajo Nation at the Church Rock Uranium Mill, releasing 94 million gallons of radioactive waste into the Rio Puerco river.[2] Abandoned and unreclaimed uranium mines in the Navajo Nation remain highly radioactive and continue to leach toxic and radioactive sludge into tribal waterways, contaminating them with uranium, arsenic, lead, vanadium, and manganese.[3] One CDC study found that 27 percent of Navajos have high levels of uranium in their urine, a percentage that is more than five times higher than that of the US population as a whole.[1] Navajos continue to face augmented rates of cancer and birth defects.


Learn more about nuclear assaults on the Navajo Nation on our other pages

Los Alamos National Laboratory & Uranium Mining in the Southwest

Nuclear Weapons Testing



[1] Laurel Morales, “For The Navajo Nation, Uranium Mining’s Deadly Legacy Lingers,” National Public Radio, April 10, 2016.….

[2] Traci Brynne Voyles, Wastelanding: Legacies of uranium mining in Navajo country. U of Minnesota Press, 2015

“Saturday, July 15th Commemorations of 1945 Trinity Atomic Bomb Test and 1979 Church Rock Uranium Tailings Spill,” Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety, June 30, 2017, accessed April 29, 2020,

[3] Valerie Kuletz, “Tragedy at the Center of the Universe.” In The Tainted Desert: Environmental Ruin in the American West, pp. 19-37. NY: Routledge (1998);

“Nuclear War: Uranium Mining and Nuclear Tests on Indigenous Lands” Cultural Survival Quarterly Magazine (1993)…;

Mnar Muhawesh. “The Native American Water Poisoning That’s Far Worse & More Persistent Than Flint,” MintPress News, February 29, 2016, accessed April 29, 2020,