"In the village of Paguate as June Lorenzo’s grandmother knew it growing up, orchards and fields of wheat and corn carpeted nearby hillsides. Streams traversed a verdant valley where people hunted and grazed sheep near the small farming community in Laguna Pueblo. This was before a massive mine cratered the nearby land and altered the skyline. Lorenzo has looked for old photos of that landscape, but they’re hard to find. That place exists now only in stories from elders.
For a significant stretch of its 30 years in operation from 1953 to 1982, the Jackpile Mine was one of the world’s largest open-pit uranium mines.
Nearly half of the uranium supply used by the United States for nuclear weapons in the Cold War came from New Mexico thanks to the Grants Mineral Belt, a rich deposit of uranium ore that runs through the northwest corner of New Mexico. The mining started before regulations were in place to protect the surrounding air, water, and public health.
The Laguna Pueblo tribe has fought for decades to undo that damage."
Elizabeth Miller reports for New Mexico In Depth via Indian Country Today January 3, 2022.