Ian Zabarte is Principal Man of the Western Bands of the Shoshone Nation of Indians. You never know what is killing you when it is done in secret. I watched my uncle suffer from horrible cancer that ate away at his throat and my grandfather die of an auto-immune disease that is known to be caused by exposure to radiation.
More than 900 nuclear tests were conducted on Shoshone territory in the US. Residents still live with the consequences.
When the fallout came down, it killed the delicate flora and fauna, creating these huge vulnerabilities across thousands of square miles of Shoshone territory. The pine trees we use for food and heating were exposed, the plants we use for food and medicine were exposed, the animals we use for food were exposed. We were exposed.
In every other part of the world where there have been nuclear catastrophes or nuclear testing – such as Kazakhstan, Japan, even Chernobyl – there are health registries to monitor those who have been exposed, even if the numbers are kept artificially low in some places. We do not have that here in the US. We do not have that for Native American downwinders.
We continue to endure and we live with the understanding that the radiation is there on the ground, it is there in our plants, in our animals, and inside of our people.
Our custom is sharing, but when all you have is a hammer, everything is a nail, and that is what the US military has been doing, hammering the Shoshone with bombs.