For over 50 years, the people of the Amskapi Piikani Nation (Blackfeet) have relayed information of “something bad” being covertly dumped within their remaining homelands. These stories, addressing contaminated waste and the locations of rumored dump sites, have also been linked with perceived cancer clusters among residents who live within the Blackfeet Nation. The concept of environmental justice suggests that often the most vulnerable populations, to include communities of color, experience the negative realities of environmental toxic exposures and it is not uncommon for toxic wastes to be disposed of within Native lands. Given that Blackfeet communities suffer from some of the highest rates of cancer incidence in the state of Montana, (MT Tumor Registry, 2018) these narratives warrant further investigation. This research asks if illicit dumping within Blackfeet sovereign lands can be substantiated and if this is a case of environmental injustice. This investigation employs a mix of both traditional Indigenous and western-based scientific methodologies, both quantitative and qualitative. Traditional methodologies include the use of Indigenous oral narratives. These oral narratives are then further informed with western process, to include document review, geologic, water, and radiation surveys. The study finds compelling evidence through the oral histories and document reviews for the potential of toxic dumping within Blackfeet lands, however, cursory water and radiation surveys are not conclusive. This initial inquiry provides the foundation for further research needed to press this investigation.
Paul, Kimberly L. and Caplins, Laura B., "Narratives of Injustice: An Investigation of Toxic Dumping within the Blackfeet Nation" (2020). Human Biology Open Access Pre-Prints. 173.