For the past several years, I have been observing many people from San Carlos and Globe succumbing to the devastating illness of cancers and like problems. Even though cancer is only one disease there is a myriad of illnesses that we have in epidemic proportions here in Gila and Graham counties mainly due to the use of 2-4-5 TP chemicals (dioxin and furans) aka. ‘agent orange,’ that was sprayed in the 1960’s first in San Carlos then in the Pinal Mountains near Globe, Arizona.
In 1962, the San Carlos Apache Tribe permitted the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the US Geological Survey to test 2-4-5 TP or Agent Orange in the Gila and San Carlos Rivers. The reason for the spraying of our lands was to remove salt cedar vegetation along the river and water ways. Salt cedars soak up and use a lot of water while growing. This is why we can see the salt cedar growth along the Gila River near the Bylas Bridge in mass amounts. The Agent Orange chemical, which is dioxin and furans, has nothing to stop the growing of the salt cedars along the river. In 1970, the US Geological Survey justified the use of the deadliest chemical on earth to remove these invasive Salt Cedars but to no avail.
Rather than removing the Salt Cedar to obtain optimum water runoff from summer torrential rains, we have been invaded with many types of illnesses in our community ranging from birth defects, heart diseases, cancers of all kinds, diabetes type 1 and 2, thyroid problems, memory issues such as Alzheimer’s, and the list goes on and on. Let us come to the reasoning fact that we were used as lab rats to test the effects of the chemical on the body of Apaches and our neighbors in the Globe area in which we are dealing with the causal effect in our bodies to this very day.
Let me remind you that this is the reason why The People are dying almost daily of some abnormal disease. Furthermore, cancer, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, Alzheimer’s, lymphomas, and other ailments and diseases were never hereditary until its introduction through the spraying of the 2-4-5TP chemical unto our lands, which, in turn, has soaked in the clay sediment strata, thus infecting even the vegetation, wildlife, air we breathe, the water we drink and bathe in, and everything else.
The mining operations near and close to our lands also help carry out systematic ecocide and genocide that is taking place. The heavy metal from the mines in the air and water is contaminating us all and no one wants to say anything because of their job securities. San Carlos is located in a valley so automatically we receive the water runoff of the poison tailings into the San Carlos Lake. The San Carlos Lake and Gila River water systems are connected to the Central Arizona Project which feeds waters en masse to southern California. The Gila River then drains into the San Pedro River then into the Santa Cruz Rivers that flows onward into Mexico. So as we can see, many peoples are being infected by the death chemical waters, yet no one says anything about it. Millions of peoples are drinking poison water and eating poison foods yet we are told this is normal and from our ancestral heritage. I am sure you have heard the saying, “it’s in our D.N.A.” and that saying is causing The People to think that such affected diseases are normal, which is quite the contrary. It is utterly abominable and hideously abnormal.
2-4-5TP is mutagenic. A mutagen is an “agent, such as a chemical, ultraviolet light, or a radioactive element, that can induce or increase the frequency of mutation in an organism,” hence mutagenic would be the act of increasing or causing mutation in the body such as cancers, mental disorders, birth defects, heart diseases, liver diseases, kidney diseases, neuropathic issues including mental and psychological, hormone deficiencies, thyroid issues, and many, many, many more damaging illnesses that are usually fatal.
How can we protect ourselves now from the lethal effects of Agent Orange contamination? Well, the first thing to do is stop denying that we have been contaminated. We must accept this responsibility and be aware of our health and the health of our earth. Cleaning up the contamination in the clay sediments along the waterways is a start. Filtering our public water systems with activated charcoal would help even more. For those suffering with cancers and other ailments related to the chemical contamination recent studies have found that Cannabis oil and using Cannabis medicines decreases and kills the cancer growth by disarming the mutagen in the body. Growing hemp or mushrooms along the infected environmental landscape would be better than having to burn the land at 3000 degrees Fahrenheit for 2 months straight. This is not possible when the affected area is our waterways. It would be abnormal for using any other means to clean up the lands and waters that is chemically based. Chemicals will not clean up chemicals but add to the poison mixture that we have assimilated to both physically and ecologically.
As a community of Apache and our non-Apache neighbors, we must heal from the devastating effects of dioxin and furan contamination. Living under the shadow of disease and illnesses within our communities only allows the future generations to inherit the pain of now, whether it is physical, social, psychological, environmental, and most importantly, the spiritual. Accepting the reality that we have been contaminated is the first step toward healing. Now we can heal together as a community because the dioxin and furans know no racism, discrimination, or economic statuses. What it does know is that we are all unsafe in our communities until we face together our right to heal from the worse chemical known to mankind. We can’t separate ourselves from each other or blame each other. Denying the existence of this demise only continues the health problems and in actuality allows the dioxin and furan pandemic to increase.
Let us be wise and be healthy now. We only have one life to live. Together we all can make the best of it by healing our communities and cleaning up the scorched lives we have been blind to. Time for healing is now, Wake Up!
Michael Paul Hill is San Carlos Apache and does spiritual advocacy work to spread the truth according to his Apache heritage and experience. He attended the University of Arizona and Arizona State University and also is a member of the San Carlos Apache Tribal Bar Association.