reprinted with permission from
Poison Fire, Sacred Earth,


page 152


Suwimi Lewis

Suwimi Lewis, Laguna Nation, New Mexico, USA. Daughter of Gloria and Greg Lewis.

Hello! My name is Suwimi Lewis and I live in the pueblo village Paguate, New Mexico. I am ten years old. I got interested in the safety of the Jackpile Mine because my schoolbus route goes directly through the mine.

           This mine was once the largest open pit and underground uranium mine in the world. It was closed in 1982. I have lived in Paguate all my life. I have always wondered if the mines would ever be safe enough for my friends and I to play in, or safe enough for our people to plant and graze their animals there. My family and I contacted the mines and asked if we could take a tour. Mr. Victor Sarracino, who is a monitor technician, gave us information about the reclamation project that is being done at the Jack Pile Mine. The Pueblo of Laguna formed their own construction company to do the reclamation project themselves. This is costing the tribe 43 million dollars to finish. All the work that is done is kept on computer so that technicians will know exactly how much progress they are making. The project is ahead of schedule as of this month. Mr. Sarracino explained that when the low-grade ore is pushed into the ground, 12 inches of shale and 18 inches of top, soil is put on top. Is this enough to stop any radiation leaks from the ground? Mr. Sarracino explained that once the monitoring is done for ten years it should be safe for our people to use again.

           There are no future plans for any recreation projects for the people of Paguate. I found out that the village of Paguate has a very big natural resource that can hopefully be reclaimed again. Some day I hope my friends and I will be able to use the mines and that we can safely use the land for a good purpose. I hope the uranium will never be mined again, this can only destroy not only my generation but future generations of Indian children and Mother Earth.

           Thank you.

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