Tribe asks why waste piling up
by Mary Martinez
Las Vegas Sun, April 8, 1996
When Ian Zabarte of the Western Shoshone tribe looks at
Yucca Mountain, the proposed high-level nuclear waste dump for
the nation, all he sees is politics.
Zabarte has tracked more than 20 bills introduced in
Congress over the past year, some trying to make Southern Nevada
the solution to 50 years of nuclear weapons and commercial nuclear
"This waste dump is not for any other purpose than
political," he told those gathered at the Nuclear Abolition
Summit at UNLV.
What Zabarte and others wonder is why the nuclear
industry keeps producing nuclear wastes. "When my bathtub is
overflowing, the first thing I do is turn off the water before I
clean up the mess," he said.
While Nevada officials as well as 24 Indian tribes have
fought to keep the national dump out of Yucca Mountain, 90 miles
northwest of Las Vegas, others such as the Mescaleros and the
Navajos are exploring options for storing nuclear waste on their
A recent letter written to General Atomis in San Diego
from the Navajo Tribe in Arizona explores storing nuclear waste
and developing a nuclear research center and nuclear power plant,"
said Grace Thorpe, president of the National Environmental
Coalition of Native Americans in Prague, Okla.
"I didn't like the idea when I heard about it," she
The Department of Energy can offer money for homes,
schools and hospitals, but put the land, animals and plants at
risk, she said.
Thorpe, whose Indian name of No Ten O Quah means "Woman
with the Power of the Wind Before the Storm Hits," said it is time
all tribes break the nuclear chain.
As a WAC corporal in New Guinea when the two U.S. bombs
fell on Japan, Thorpe said, "We were all delighted. The war was
Then she went to Japan and saw the devastation. "When
you see something like that, it's too horrible," she said. "We did
this to all these people."