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Showing posts from October, 2017

Need Climate Change Evidence? A Western Shoshone Basketmaker Has It

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“Culture means learning from each other and sharing,” Western Shoshone basketmaker Leah Brady tells me. Nowadays, it also means an intimate experience of climate change and pollution, as she weaves natural materials—willow, cedar, reeds and more—into baskets.

Brady’s Elko, Nevada, home showcases her award-winning work and that of other artisans—several generations of her family and additional makers from Northern Paiute, Goshute and other area tribes. The items' materials evoke the millennia-old relationship between Native people and their rugged desert and mountain homeland.

That world is changing in ways that Brady and other local crafts makers observe first-hand. She shows me how she creates willow-bark thread—biting down on one end of a willow branch to steady it and pulling off three narrow strips of bark. “If my mouth starts tingling, I know the willow has been sprayed with a pesticide or other chemical,” Brady says. “Some basketmakers report getting blisters in their mout…

Lead Poisoning for All! It's Not Just Flint Anymore

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Once politicians promised a chicken in every pot. Not anymore. The Trump administration is promising Americans lead poisoning in every blood stream—human and animal. The nation has long banned lead in paint, water pipes and gasoline. Lead poisoning created tragic damage to human health and a national scandal in Flint, Michigan. How soon we forget.

As I recently reported in Rural America In These Times, on Ryan Zinke’s first day in office as Secretary of the Interior, he rescinded restrictions on use of lead-based ammunition and fishing-line sinkers on lands managed by the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). Though the restriction was limited (phasing out the toxin on just certain federal lands by 2022), the NRA predictably described it as “an attack on our hunting heritage.” It was also first put into effect by President Obama, all of whose legacy is under attack by the current administration—just because.

Each year, hunters and fishermen pump tens of thousands of tons of lead into the …

Kim Jong-un, the Nobel and the Western Shoshone

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Kim Jong-un can relax! We’ve already nuked ourselves! A lot!

The Nobel Committee’s announcement that the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons has received this year’s Peace Prize has thrown a spotlight on U.S. nuclear policy. Nearly 1,000 nuclear devices have been detonated above and below ground at the Nevada Test Site since it was established in 1951.

As I recently reported in Rural America In These Times, this makes the Western Shoshone, within whose treaty lands the site lies—and by extension, the rest of us—arguably the most bombed nation on earth. And now, the Trump administration wants to ramp up the radioactive poisons in the area.

In June, Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Rick Perry suggested using the test site, now called the Nevada National Security Site, as an interim waste dump. At the same time, Perry would reopen licensing procedures for nearby Yucca Mountain, with a view toward making the mountain— revered as a sacred site by area tribes—the permane…