Project Pueblo Promo Video

Water Systems for 5 Navajo Families Affected by Uranium

A project of Project Pueblo

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Alice Begay

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Alice Tso

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Caroline Tohannie

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Pauline Whitesinger

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Rena Babbitt Lane

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Grandma drinking contaminated water

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Geiger counter reading near water impoundment dam

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Hauling EPA Superfund safe drinking water

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Hauling water from Box Springs, a well contaminated by uranium and arsenic

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Installing a water system

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Testing unclean water

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Grandma drinking clean water for the first time in her life

7200+ Navajo families don't have running water, and many haul and drink uranium-contaminated water. We want to help 5 drink clean water.

The former Bennett Freeze is a 2 million acre area within the Navajo Indian reservation comprised of 8000+ families where only 25% have adequate shelter, only 10% have running water, and only 3% have electricity as a result of a 1966 law that lasted for 44 years forbidding residents from building or repairing homes, roads, and infrastructure.

The 7200+ families that lack pipped water must haul their water from other sources, most (thousands) of which are unregulated. In addition to chemical and bacteriological contamination, significant uranium contamination in many of these sources has been an issue due to decades of haphazard mining, leading to unprecedented instances of cancer, birth defects, and other related health problems. While many of these Navajo continue to use these contaminated sources unknowingly, many knowingly still haul their water from these sources because there are no other options.

In 2009, the Navajo community grassroots organization Forgotten People with Rita and Bill Sebastian of Brandeis University developed a sustainable blueprint as they successfully installed 9 water systems for residents of Black Falls, one of the most severely affected areas, with a $20,000 grant from the EPA.

Project Pueblo and Forgotten People’s aim is to raise $12,000 to install 5 more of these water systems for the following families (click here for more details on each family):

Alice Tso, Box Springs. I am an elderly woman living in Box Springs in a 1-room house without electricity and running water. I was diagnosed with intestinal cancer and had part of my intestine removed. I have been drinking water from Box Springs for about 40 years. I am a concerned water user that wants to learn, now that I have cancer and this is reality so I can understand why I was never informed and educated about the danger of drinking contaminated water.

Rena Babbitt Lane, Black Mesa. I am elderly and was born and raised on top of Black Mesa in a 1-room house without running water and electricity. The US Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) capped off and dismantled the windmills near where we live. Recently we were told the reason is because the water sources are contaminated with uranium and arsenic.

Caroline & Burt Tohannie, Black Mesa. We live in an old 1-room male Hogan (house) without running water and electricity on top of Black Mesa above Peabody Coal Company’s coal slurry pipeline. Burt has a heart condition. Our houses have deteriorated and we are trying to make our lives going but it is hard. We used to have a lot of people living on Black Mesa that relocated. A lot of them died. Relocation is horrible.

Alice & Kee Z. Begay, Black Mesa. We are traditional Navajo elders living in a 2-room house without running water and electricity near Peabody Coal Company. We do not speak, read or write English and live a subsistence lifestyle herding sheep. Our family has been living here for 8 or 9 generations. We see people are having a hard time with uranium exposure and uranium workers are dying. The water wells near me are capped off and we are told the water is contaminated with uranium and arsenic.

Pauline Whitesinger, Big Mountain. I am an elderly woman living in a 1-room eight-sided juniper Hogan (house) without running water and electricity. I sleep on a cot over a dirt floor next to a wood fire built within an overturned, sawed-off barrel. I do not speak, read or write English and am communicating with the help of my daughter who is translating my words. In order to get water, I have to carry buckets of water from the Canyon or travel over 50 miles round trip to Hardrock Chapter to get water.

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Organization Information

Project Pueblo
5469 Taft Avenue
Apt E Oakland, CA 94618




Project Pueblo is a nonprofit organization that conducts short-term, low-cost service trips to the Navajo reservation.

EIN: 900589738

Reports: Guidestar

$8,130 RAISED OF $12,000 GOAL
$0 $12,000
($380 online, $7,750 offline)

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