News of the tragic water situation in Flint, Michigan has caused outrage across the country, with many people suggesting that because the population is mostly comprised of black people, politicians were slow to act in resolving the problem. However, there’s a much worse water problem for another group of people, but nobody seems to care about it. Take a guess as to why.
The reason is simple – the Navajo people are Native American, and therefore they’re not a “protected” class when it comes to progressive outrage. For decades, the Navajo people have suffered with an incredibly toxic water supply, but because they haven’t made careers out of being professional victims, nobody seems to care what’s happening to them. Whereas in Flint, outrage can be seen in all corners of the country, and it’s easy to see why there’s a difference in reactions.
The news out of Flint, Michigan brought the issue of contaminated drinking water into sharp focus, as it was revealed that officials at every level—local, state and federal—knew about lead-poisoned water for months but did nothing to address the problem.
Under state-run systems like utilities and roads, poorer communities are the last to receive attention from government plagued by inefficiencies and corrupt politicians. Perhaps no group knows this better than Native Americans, who have been victimized by government for centuries.
In the western U.S., water contamination has been a way of life for many tribes. As Brenda Norrell, a news reporter in Indian country, describes, the situation in Navajo nation is “more horrific than in Flint, Michigan.”
Since the 1950s, their water has been poisoned by uranium mining to fuel the nuclear industry and the making of atomic bombs for the U.S. military. Coal mining and coal-fired power plants have added to the mix. The latest assault on Navajo water was carried out by the massive toxic spills into the Animas and San Juan rivers when the EPA recklessly attempted to address the abandoned Gold King mine.