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Continuing the conversation about racial and social injustice in the nuclear field, the Project on Managing the Atom has the honor to host a discussion about the multigenerational impact of uranium mining on the environment, health, and community life of Indigenous people. One of the lingering legacies of the U.S. nuclear energy and nuclear weapon programs is thousands of abandoned uranium mines in the Southwestern United States. There are over 500 on the lands of the Navajo Nation alone. The panel brings together academic, activist, and community perspectives on life in the vicinity of abandoned and un-remediated uranium mines. Terry Keyanna and Jeff Gaco, representatives of the Navajo community of Red Water Pond Road and of the Pueblo of Laguna, will share their personal experiences and those of their communities in the face of treaty rights abrogation, commercial interests, and government inaction. Dr. Johnnye Lewis of the University of New Mexico and Chris Shuey of the Southwest Research and Information Center will discuss the history of uranium mining in the Indigenous lands and the community–academic collaboration on the Navajo Birth Cohort Study tracing effects on pregnancies and early childhood development from chronic exposure to uranium and other metals.

This webinar is part of the Managing the Atom series on Diversity and Inclusion in the Nuclear Field. Click here to read about and view a recording of the previous event in the series.


Jeff Gaco is Second Lieutenant Governor of the Pueblo of Laguna, New Mexico, ex-officio member of the Laguna Health Care Corporation, and Staff Officer and resident of the Village of Paguate, which overlooks the abandoned Jackpile Uranium Mine, once the largest open-pit uranium mine in the world.

Teracita (Terry) Keyanna is a member of the Red Water Pond Road Community Association and former resident of a community exposed to two of the largest abandoned uranium mines on the Navajo Nation and a uranium mill tailings disposal facility.  

Johnnye Lewis, Ph.D., is Principal Investigator for the Navajo Birth Cohort Study, Environmental Influences on Child Health Outcomes (NBCS/ECHO+), funded by the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Lewis is also the Director of the University of New Mexico (UNM) Community Environmental Health Program, UNM METALS Superfund Research Program (SRP), and Center for Native Environmental Health Equity Research. Dr. Lewis is a toxicologist with more than 30 years of experience in assessing the health impacts of uranium contamination and pioneering a community–academic collaboration model that privileges the direct participation of affected Native communities in the design and implementation of environmental and biomedical research.

Chris Shuey, MPH, is co-investigator of NBCS-ECHO+, community engagement core leader for UNM METALS SRP, and director of the Uranium Impact Assessment Program at Southwest Research and Information Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Mr. Shuey is an environmental health specialist who has worked in and with Navajo and Pueblo communities on uranium mining impacts since the late 1970s. He has teamed with Dr. Lewis and other university researchers to implement community-partnered research in uranium-impacted Native communities for more than 20 years.


Mariana Budjeryn, Ph.D., is a Research Associate with the Project on Managing the Atom. She is currently working on a book on the nuclear disarmament of Ukraine following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Dr. Budjeryn previously held fellowships at the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Harvard University (2018-2019) and International Security Program and Project on Managing the Atom (2016-2018). She earned her Ph.D. in Political Science from Central European University in Budapest, Hungary.