Oak Ridge National Laboratory


The Oak Ridge National Laboratory sits on the homelands of the Cherokee people, whose tribe was fractured into three independent and distinct tribal nations, the Cherokee Nation, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, and the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians. In 1971 the Treaty of Holston ceded the lands upon which Oak Ridge National Laboratory sits from the Cherokee to the United States Government. In addition, this treaty established that terms and relations between the Cherokee fell under protection of the United States Government.[1]

Herbert York, a Mohawk Physicist, was one of the only American Indians to work on the Manhattan Project. He worked at Oak Ridge National Laboratory at the Y-12 Plant where he worked on electromagnetic separation of uranium-235.[2][3] Phoebe Smith, a member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, also worked at Oak Ridge, possibly at the Y-12 plant as a cauldron girl.

[2] "Native Americans and the Manhattan Project," Atomic Heritage Foundation, https://www.atomicheritage.org/history/native-americans-and-manhattan-p….

[3] "Herbert York," Atomic Heritage Foundation, https://www.atomicheritage.org/profile/herbert-york.

Natives who worked on the Manhattan Project at Oak Ridge

Phoebe Smith
Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians
Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Pheobe Smith worked at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the 1940s.[1] limited information on Pheobe's involvement at Oak Ridge exists. However, some insight to what work Phoebe may have done at Oak Ridge can be gained through her childhood friend, Wynona Arrington Butner, whom she recruited…

Herbert York
Mohawk Nation
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Herbert York (1921-2009), a Mohawk Physicist, began working on the Manhattan project at the Berkeley Radiation Laboratory in California. He then moved to the Oak Ridge National Laboratory at the Y-12 Plant where he worked on electromagnetic separation of uranium-235.

After the war, York served as the first director of the…