Johnathon Nez, the Vice-President of the Navajo Nation says the pollution of the Animas River from the Gold King mine has affected the Navajo Nation in many ways “first is our livestock, our livestock goes to the San Juan river there for their water source. Second is the farmer, the irrigation there, communities there rely on agriculture for their livelihood and for themselves as well. And most importantly is the drinking water. There are some communities that solely rely on the San Juan River for their drinking water.”
The Navajo Nation has filed a lawsuit against the federal government over the spill that was caused by EPA activity in the mine. Nez says the pollution of the river shines a light on the larger picture of contamination of native lands.
“I hope it shines the light on the larger discussion that we Native Tribal communities have been trying to wave at the federal government and say “we have all these old uranium mines within the Navajo nation and tribal communities and they’re not cleaned up and they’re contaminating our drinking water and we keep raising these concerns and I hope now with this spill that those concerns of tribal communities will be raised up as a priority for the federal government.”