The best books on Native Americans and lethal uranium mining

Why am I passionate about this?

I retired in 2019 after 38 years of teaching journalism, environmental studies, and Native American Studies at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. About half of my employment time was set aside for writing and editing as part of several endowed professorships I held sequentially between 1990 and 2018. After 2000, climate change (global warming) became my lead focus because of the urgency of the issue and the fact that it affects everyone on Earth. As of 2023, I have written and published 56 books, with about one-third of them on global warming. I have had an intense interest in weather and climate all my life.


I wrote...

Resource Devastation on Native American Lands: Toxic Earth, Poisoned People

By Bruce E. Johansen,

Book cover of Resource Devastation on Native American Lands: Toxic Earth, Poisoned People

What is my book about?

Shortly after World War II, the United States was building its nuclear stockpile, as many miners were hired to staff the mines for “yellowcake,” uranium ore.  The largest producer of mined uranium ore was the Navajo Nation. Miners arrived home after shifts in mines caked in poisonous ore. Soon, many of them became sick, most often with lung cancer. At least 500 died before the mines were shut down.

This book describes their lives and deaths, as well as the Navajos’ struggle to ban the mining. The book also describes the toll of chemical pollutants (such as PCBs) among Akwesasne Mohawks in Upstate New York, Ontario, and Quebec; the damage to ice-based cultures in the Arctic, the mining of tar sands on Native peoples in Alberta, Canada, and much more.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of If You Poison Us: Uranium & Native Americans

Bruce E. Johansen Why did I love this book?

This was one of the earliest, and best written, of several books between 1995 and 2022 that have dissected the deadly situation concerning Navajos and Uranium.

Published in 1995, If You Poison Us contains both medical information and graphic personal stories of afflicted miners. This book played an important role in accelerating the political drive to get compensation for ex-miners whose lives had been ravaged by continued exposure to “yellow dirt.”

By Peter H Eichstaedt,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked If You Poison Us as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The supply of uranium that fueled the Cold War came largely from the Four Corners area of the Colorado Plateau. Some of the richest deposits were found on the Navajo Reservation, where about one-fourth of the miners and millers were Native Americans. For nearly three decades in the face of growing evidence that uranium mining was dangerous, state and federal agencies neglected to warn the miners or to impose safety measures in the mines.


Book cover of The Navajo People and Uranium Mining

Bruce E. Johansen Why did I love this book?

Brugge., et al. rests its case on the personal lives of Navajos who became poisoned by the uranium that pervaded nearly the entire Navajo Nation from the 1940s until the mines were closed in the 1970s to about 2015.

Much of the editing was done by Navajos, which provides a clear and strong message describing how the many deaths from uranium poison have shredded the cultural fabric of Navajo life.

It is an intensely personal book that is very strong in its account of these effects on families, elders, and future generations.

By Doug Brugge (editor), Timothy Benally (editor), Esther Yazzie-Lewis (editor)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Navajo People and Uranium Mining as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Sixty years ago, the United States turned to the tiny atom to unleash the most destructive force known to mankind and bring an end to World War II. Ironically, the uranium used to create the most technologically advanced weapon ever invented came from the land of the most traditional indigenous people of North America, and was dug from the earth with picks and shovels...Lost in the history of this era is the story of the people - the Dine - who pulled uranium out of the ground by hand, who spoke and continue to speak an ancient tongue...By the thousands,…


Book cover of Oil Sparks in the Amazon: Local Conflicts, Indigenous Populations, and Natural Resources

Bruce E. Johansen Why did I love this book?

This book has worthwhile attributes, such as clear writing on the nature of uranium poisoning and its history, personal interviews, and vital coverage of local peoples’ reactions to damage done to their lands and their families, as well as their homelands by profit-mined mining companies.

Vasquez’s coverage centers on the Amazon with a focus on several extractive industries. This book stands alone in its coverage of resource extraction issues in the Amazon Valley because this area has so many other important issues to cover.

By Patricia I. Vasquez,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Oil Sparks in the Amazon as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For decades, studies of oil-related conflicts have focused on the effects of natural resource mismanagement, resulting in great economic booms and busts or violence as rebels fight ruling governments over their regions' hydrocarbon resources. In Oil Sparks in the Amazon, Patricia I. Vasquez writes that while oil busts and civil wars are common, the tension over oil in the Amazon has played out differently, in a way inextricable from the region itself.

Oil disputes in the Amazon primarily involve local indigenous populations. These groups' social and cultural identities differ from the rest of the population and the diverse disputes over…


Book cover of Yellow Dirt: A Poisoned Land and the Betrayal of the Navajos

Bruce E. Johansen Why did I love this book?

Pasternak was one of several journalists who became immersed in the cause of assembling information on exposure of Navajos and other Native American peoples to lethal doses of uranium as a result of mining.

As a veteran who worked with the Los Angeles Times for 24 years, she played an important role in achieving compensation. Yellow Dirt is especially strong on ways in which uranium had pervaded the lives of the Navajo, from the clothes they wore to the food they ate, to the air they breathed.

By Judy Pasternak,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Yellow Dirt as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This investigative feat tells the shocking, heartbreaking story of uranium mining on the Navajo reservation and its terrible legacy of sickness and government neglect, documenting one of the darker chapters in 20th century American history.

Now in paperback, the critically acclaimed Yellow Dirt, “will break your heart. An enormous achievement—literally, a piece of groundbreaking investigative journalism—illustrates exactly what reporting should do: Show us what we’ve become as a people, and sharpen our vision of who we, the people, ought to become” ( The Christian Science Monitor ).

From the 1930s to the 1960s, the United States knowingly used and discarded…


Book cover of Wastelanding: Legacies of Uranium Mining in Navajo Country

Bruce E. Johansen Why did I love this book?

While several other books describe uranium’s effects on the Navajos and other Native American peoples from individual effects of exposure and death, Wastelanding is strongest in building a strong case that all of these individual efforts constitute a clear case that environmental racism, as well as colonization, and gender discrimination, combine with the United States’ hunger for uranium in a new atomic age to make victims of people who had lived in the areas for millennia while leaving the uranium in the ground, which is exactly where the people decided it should stay.

By Traci Brynne Voyles,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Wastelanding as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Wastelanding tells the history of the uranium industry on Navajo land in the U.S. Southwest, asking why certain landscapes and the peoples who inhabit them come to be targeted for disproportionate exposure to environmental harm. Uranium mines and mills on the Navajo Nation land have long supplied U.S. nuclear weapons and energy programs. By 1942, mines on the reservation were the main source of uranium for the top-secret Manhattan Project. Today, the Navajo Nation is home to more than a thousand abandoned uranium sites. Radiation-related diseases are endemic, claiming the health and lives of former miners and nonminers alike.

Traci…


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Mindleap: A Fresh View of Education Empowered by Neuroscience and Systems Thinking

By Jim Brown,

Book cover of Mindleap: A Fresh View of Education Empowered by Neuroscience and Systems Thinking

Jim Brown Author Of Mindleap: A Fresh View of Education Empowered by Neuroscience and Systems Thinking

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I have spent my entire professional life quietly patrolling the frontiers of understanding human consciousness. I was an early adopter in the burgeoning field of biofeedback, then neurofeedback and neuroscience, plus theory and practices of humanistic and transpersonal psychology, plus steeping myself in systems theory as a context for all these other fields of focus. I hold a MS in psychology from San Francisco State University and a PhD from Saybrook Institute. I live in Mount Shasta CA with Molly, my life partner for over 60 years. We have two sons and two grandchildren.

Jim's book list on brain, mind, and consciousness

What is my book about?

In this thoroughly researched and exquisitely crafted treatise, Jim Brown synthesizes the newest understandings in neuroscience, developmental psychology, and dynamical systems theory for educators and others committed to nurturing human development.

He explains complex concepts in down-to-earth terms, suggesting how these understandings can transform education to engender optimal learning and intelligence. He explores the nature of consciousness, intelligence, and mind.

Brown then offers a model of optimal human learning through lifelong brain development within a supportive culture--drawing on the work of Piaget, Erickson, Maslow, Kohlberg, and Steiner--and how that work is being vastly expanded by neuroscience and dynamical systems thinking.

Mindleap: A Fresh View of Education Empowered by Neuroscience and Systems Thinking

By Jim Brown,

What is this book about?

In this thoroughly-researched and exquisitely crafted treatise, Jim Brown synthesizes the newest understandings in neuroscience, developmental psychology, and dynamical systems theory for educators and others committed to nurturing human development. He explains complex concepts in down-to-earth terms, suggesting how these understandings can transform education to truly engender optimal learning and intelligence. He explores the nature of consciousness, intelligence, and mind. Brown then offers a model of optimal human learning through life-long brain development within a supportive culture--drawing on the work of Piaget, Erickson, Maslow, Kohlberg, and Steiner--and how that work is being vastly expanded by neuroscience and dynamical systems thinking.


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