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Event To Highlight Long-Term Effects Of Spill On Navajo Nation

Jonathan Thompson
High Country News
The Animas River in Colorado after the Gold King Mine spill in August, 2015.

Folks on the Navajo Nation still haven’t received the compensation they were promised after the Gold King Mine spill last year, according to leaders there. On Saturday starting around 6:30 a.m., people will walk and run from Hogback to Shiprock to keep the focus on long-term effects in the community.

When the mustard-yellow plume of toxic chemicals and heavy metals washed downstream into Shiprock a year ago, farmers watched their crops wither and ranchers scrambled to get water to their animals.

And even today Shiprock Chapter President Duane “Chili” Yazzie says families in the region are still coping with the impacts, both spiritual and economic.

"Because of the concern and the apprehension with the quality of the river," he said, "there is very little farming in my community area."

As part of the second-annual Resilience Walk and Run, researchers are presenting their analysis of the river’s health. And there will be petitions on hand calling for repeal or reform of an old hard rock mining law so companies will be on the hook for cleaning up abandoned mines.

Marisa Demarco began a career in radio at KUNM News in late 2013 and covered public health for much of her time at the station. During the pandemic, she is also the executive producer for Your NM Government and No More Normal, shows focused on the varied impacts of COVID-19 and community response, as well as racial and social justice. She joined Source New Mexico as editor-in-chief in 2021.
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