Sonya Begay is a member of the Navajo Nation (Dine’) and is currently working for the Administration for Native Americans in Washington, DC. Ms. Begay has been advocating and speaking about the severe health effects of uranium contamination that have plagued her nation for many decades. In her talk, Sonya tells a very personal story on how the Manhattan Project, which developed the atomic bomb that ended World War II, affected the Pueblo communities around Los Alamos, New Mexico during the 1930’s-50’s. She discovered that the whole area was contaminated with uranium and other chemicals.
Later, Ms. Begay discovered that other Indian tribes were having the same problem with contaminants, which were simply dumped when the mining companies left. To this day, the leakage of contaminants into the groundwater has not been made public enough for communities that are affected to appropriate viable standards for remediation. Thus, many tribal members are are still getting sick from environmental diseases and eventually her beloved grandma who lived on the reservation passed away from cancer.
Sonya Begay is an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation (Dine’). She is part of the Táchii’nii” (Red-Running-Into-The-Water) clan and was born for the Tódích’íi’nii (Bitter Water people) clan. Ms. Begay has been advocating and speaking about the negative health effects of uranium contamination that has plagued her nation, especially within Tuba City, Arizona (Navajo) and Moenkopi, Arizona (Hopi). She has been an invited speaker about this topic across numerous media outlets. Currently, Ms. Begay is raising her three grandchildren after their father was murdered in 2010. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community.