The Return of Navajo Boy

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Popular Mechanics: The Navajos Hunt Big Game… Uranium

Published: June 1, 1950
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In June 1950, uranium pioneer Harry Goulding wrote an article for Popular Mechanics magazine (2MB PDF) promoting uranium mining on Native lands and nuclear energy. It stands as a fascinating historical document shedding light upon attitudes towards Navajos the future of atomic energy.

Not long ago two of my Navajo friends rode up to the trading post and told me of a distant canyon where they had noticed some rocks that were crusted with a bright-yellow substance and some nodules of blood-red crystals.

That is exciting news and I’m going to explore the canyon. In this country a canary-yellow mineral that occurs with the red crystals of vanadium is almost certain to be a uranium ore. Possibly by the time you read this the United States will have one more mine that is producing the raw material for atomic energy.

If the stuff that the Indians described proves to be radioactive , it will be the seventh uranium deposit that I have helped to locate. Several I found myself, early in the war, after the government sen t out a plea for new deposits of vanadium. The vanadium was needed, to be sure, but no one told us until after Hiroshima that the associated uranium was the real reason why vanadium was being sought.

Fifty years later, Groundswell Educational Films revisited this story in our award-winning documentary The Return of Navajo Boy. Download the full article as a PDF here (2MB).

Order our award-winning film, The Return of Navajo Boy on DVD today!

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