Confronting the angry rock: American Indians' situated risks from radioactivity

Richard W. Stoffle, Richard Arnold

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Numic people in the western United States are co-adapted with their traditional lands and these lands are spiritually and physically co-adapted with these people. This relationship has been documented through studies funded by the Department of Energy, Nevada Operations. 1 The u.s. Department of Energy Nevada Operations studies of American Indiacultural impacts from the transportation of Low Level Radioactive Waste were managed by Frank DiSanza. Consultation with the involved tribes was guided by Robert Furlow through the American Indian Program. Elders from twenty-six Indian tribes participated in two studies in order to explain why the transportation of radioactive waste poses serious threats. Key in their interpretation is the perception that radioactive material is an angry rock. Indian knowledge and use of this rock goes back for thousands of years. As a powerful spiritual being the angry rock constitutes a threat that can neither be contained nor controlled by conventional means. It has the power to pollute food, medicine, and places, none of which can be used afterwards by Indian people. Spiritual impacts are even more threatening, given that the angry rock would pass along highways where there are animal creation places, access to spiritual beings, and unsung human souls. A most troubling concern is that radioactivity would be transported along the path to the afterlife. The juxtaposition of the angry rock and human spirits being sung to the afterlife is unthinkable.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)230-248
Number of pages19
JournalInternational journal of phytoremediation
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2003


  • Radioactive Waste
  • Risk Perception
  • Us Department Of Energy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Pollution
  • Plant Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Confronting the angry rock: American Indians' situated risks from radioactivity'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this