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Protect our water! Indigenous opposition to uranium mining in South Dakota

Water is rallying cry for opponents at uranium-mine hearing, Rapid City Journal, Seth Tupper Journal staff, May 9, 2017   The spirit of a recent protest against a crude-oil pipeline energized opponents of a proposed southwest South Dakota uranium mine Monday during a public hearing.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency hosted the hearing — the first of four this week — at the Best Western Ramkota Hotel in Rapid City, where about 100 people attended during the first few hours of the seven-hour event.

The gathering turned lively when one of the first audience members to speak, Carol Hayse, of rural Nemo, concluded her remarks with a fist-pumping chant that was joined by numerous audience members.

 “Protect our water!” Hayse called to the audience. “Mni Wiconi!”

“Mni Wiconi” is a Lakota Sioux phrase that translates to “water is life.” It is also the name of a rural water system that serves several Native American tribes and other users in western South Dakota.

Protesters who recently and unsuccessfully sought to prevent the completion of the Dakota Access crude-oil pipeline have said the pipeline’s crossing under the Missouri River in southern North Dakota puts the Mni Wiconi system at risk of contamination.

Hayse urged opponents of the uranium project to follow the example of the Dakota Access protesters.

Water quality was a main concern of people who spoke Monday against the proposed uranium mine. The EPA has issued two draft permits for the mine to Powertech, a U.S.-based division of the global Azarga Uranium Corp., and the EPA is taking oral public comments about the permits at this week’s hearings and written public comments until May 19 before making a final decision.

Powertech already has a license from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. If Powertech’s EPA permits are finalized, the company would still need additional permits before it could start mining, including some from the state of South Dakota. Powertech has had mining rights in the Edgemont area since the mid-2000s…….

Hayse was one of many speakers Monday to characterize the mining project as a probable water polluter. “In situ leaching will allow poisons into our Black Hills aquifers,” Hayse said.

Native American themes were also prominent in the comments from the audience. Floyd Looks for Buffalo, a member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, said the mining project is within the boundaries of an area set aside for the tribes of the Great Sioux Nation by treaties signed in 1851 and 1868. He said the tribes granted the United States “trespass authority” in those treaties.

“But we did not give them the water rights or the mineral rights,” Looks for Buffalo said, while pledging tribal opposition to the mining project. http://rapidcityjournal.com/news/local/water-is-rallying-cry-for-opponents-at-uranium-mine-hearing/article_a958986e-e520-50e1-8e90-4a7040782454.html

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May 10, 2017 - Posted by | indigenous issues, USA, water

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