Native pollution nightmareYear Published: 1992
Resource Type: Article
Cx Number: CX4479
Abstract: Native communities face extremely serious environmental and health problems caused by pollution, according to Henry Lickers, director of the environmental division of the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne. According to Lickers, what is happening in native communities foreshadows what will happen elsewhere as pollution problems continue. "We are a bellwether because we live off the land. But the nightmare we are living today, you will live tomorrow." The island reserve of Akwesasne is surrounded by heavy industry, including two chemical plants, a pulp and paper mill, two aluminum smelters, and an autoparts plant. These industries produce mercury, PCBs, organochlorines and fluoride that have polluted the land and water, according to Lickers. He also linked the pollution to other problems in the impoverished community, saying that "when resources disappear, people become more desperate. Pollution causes great stress on the community, and ultimately violence results. Mohawks at Akwesasne depended historically on farming, fishing, small-game hunting and raising livestock, activities made impossible in recent years because of heavy pollution.