Date of Award

Spring 5-11-2016


John Van Buren


On August 5th 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released approximately one million gallons of mine waste into the Animas River near Durango, Colorado. The one hundred and twenty-six mile long river travels through both Colorado and New Mexico and is a source of water for many individuals and farms along its path. This thesis analyzes the effects of the EPA’s spill on nearby Indigenous communities, specifically the Navajo community. Further, this thesis explores the relationship between the Diné (Navajo) and the United States government, seeing as American Indian cultures and the government deal with pre-existing hostilities. Referring to the EPA’s contamination of the Animas River and the history of mining for uranium within the boundaries of Navajo Nation, this thesis will consider the challenges Navajo men and women face as a result of energy consumption. This thesis uses the following three disciplines: politics, environmental history, and ethics. These disciplines analyze the incident of the EPA’s spill, the history of the Navajo culture and agriculture in America, and the long history of uranium mining in Navajo Nation and its tragic consequences for Navajo society. Finally, the thesis attempts to provide ideological suggestions for remedying the causes and effects of a raped ecosystem and the social injustices that come to follow for the Navajo people.