It might have served us better if we had gone ahead and claimed the piles as Oklahoma’s very own “manmade toxic mountain range.” Lots of people, myself included have stated the ore from this site made the bullets that won both World Wars. Sometimes it takes new eyes and a simple statement to change the way we might consider looking at our chat piles and this proud legacy. And that is what happened to me when an out-of-stater called this whole site “The Nile.”
She went ahead to explain, wasn’t this the source of all sources? Isn’t this where the lead for all the (bullets I expected her to say), but no, she said, leaded gasoline, lead paint, and lead pipes, all linked squarely with the lead poisoning that has been occurring all through the 20th century, all over this country? Who could say no, it wasn’t, couldn’t have been us, it must have been our sister site in Idaho. But yes, we both did it and worked our men to early deaths and ruined the lands of the Quapaws and with a bit of mining done on the Miami and the Peoria’s narrow strips of tribal lands.
And this site’s metals hit the water and flow down Tar Creek, meet the Neosho and come down the Spring River from Kansas and Missouri, bringing their loads of lead and other metals, all accumulating in the Grand Lake o’ the Cherokees, but not to be stopped by a dam, but are proceeding on down to the connected lakes. No one can say we were stingy with our metals. Even downstream in the riparian zones, in the wetlands, our metals reside and all the plants take them up from the sediments and can be found in their fruits, free for the taking for humans and wildlife and traveling birds.
Not only have our metals been dumbing down and lowering the potential of our children, but think of all the children throughout this nation we have damaged with the use of our lead in the products in cars and homes all over the country.
What a responsibility, what a legacy. Do we want to continue being “The Nile?” We need to advocate for this site to be cleaned up, for real and for good. We need to find ways to rid us of all the old lead paint in and on homes throughout our neighborhoods. We need to advocate for every resident to have their yards sampled for lead and to have it removed by DEQ. We need to ask the state and every town to find ways to have lead pipes in homes replaced.
Lead poisoning is preventable. We need to make sure our communities get on with getting “the lead out!” and then we need to begin to join the chorus throughout the country advocating for lead free zones, and then whole lead free towns.
Our new head of the EPA, our former Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt was asked about lead in his Senate hearing for his confirmation…. And he didn’t know anything about it. And now he is in charge of the cleanup of this site?
We can help him learn more about lead, we are the advocates for change. We can email a message or write a real postcard or even a letter. You could do what many do, go to the state capitol and lobby our congressmen. Grace Goodeagle could teach us how. Say something, write something. I intend to keep educating our elected officials, remember Representative Mullin’s field representative had NEVER received a call about this site.
It gets more serious now. We are the Nile and we cannot DENY it. We are the source and everything we can do here we should do, but we can’t stop there, we need to advocate for our sister sites, all those cities and towns with lead in their water, with lead pipes, children living in housing with deteriorating lead paint. That’s our stuff out there doing damage and we were the source.
I'm not denying it.