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L’exploitation des ressources minières de l’Ouest étasunien : l’uranium, les autochtones et  les environnementalistes

IdeAs : Idées d’Amériques. 2016;8 DOI 10.4000/ideas.1710


Journal Homepage

Journal Title: IdeAs : Idées d’Amériques

ISSN: 1950-5701 (Online)

Publisher: Institut des Amériques

LCC Subject Category: History America: Latin America. Spanish America | Social Sciences: Social sciences (General)

Country of publisher: France

Language of fulltext: French, English

Full-text formats available: PDF, HTML, XML



Susanne Berthier-Foglar


Double blind peer review

Editorial Board

Instructions for authors

Time From Submission to Publication: 52 weeks


Abstract | Full Text

As a major energy consumer, the United States is concerned about the vital question of energy independence. Uranium resources are mainly located in the West and when their exploitation began, it did not arouse any opposition. With the rise of indigenous claims in the 1960s, as well as the awareness of the danger of radiations, complaints have risen and intensified. This article analyzes the arguments of the opponents and proponents of uranium mining in the Southwest, of the Indian Nations (Navajo and Pueblo), of the conservationists and the tourist industry. Native Americans still suffer from “radiation disease, ”a colloquial term covering an array of medical conditions, and—after having outlawed every form of uranium industry—a more moderate attitude toward mining companies is observed today. Furthermore, alliances are formed between conservationists and Native Americans when their interests converge, and the rift between wealthy tribes and poor Hispanic villages widens. The former can afford to do without uranium considered too dangerous, especially if they have casino revenues, the latter have no other choice than to accept the installation of a mine if their inhabitants want to be able to find work close to home. Against all the arguments in favor of uranium mining, the opponents—and not only the conservationists—refuse the mines if they are located in areas of high visibility (near a National Park, on a “sacred”—i.e. culturally significant–mountain). As for the mining companies, they place their mines on stand-by waiting for an upturn of the uranium market or the loss oftrust of the population in hydraulic fracturing.