Environment | National

Native Sun News: Film looks at uranium in Indian Country

The following story was written and reported by Talli Nauman, Native Sun News Health & Environment Editor. All content © Native Sun News.

Elisha Yellow Thunder, left, and Debra White Plume took part in the Chicago screening of the documentary feature film “Crying Earth, Rise Up!,” which is scheduled to show in Rapid City at the Elks Theatre on April 18 in celebration of Earth Day. PHOTO COURTESY/PRAIRIE DUST FILMS

RAPID CITY, SOUTH DAKOTA – Oglala Lakota grandmother and activist Debra White Plume is set to present the independent film “Crying Earth, Rise Up!” at a free Earth Day celebration at the Elks Theatre, located at 512 6th St., from 6:30 to 8 p.m. on April 18.

White Plume, director of the Manderson-based non-profit Owe Aku (Take Back the Way), is a producer of the feature documentary, a work in progress that has been in production and screened at various locations all this year on South Dakota reservations facing the environmental health threats of uranium mining.

To kick off the celebration, Black Hills Raptor Center will present live birds of prey in an informational talk about their importance for the balance of nature, including the true story of Braveheart, the golden eagle.

The highlight of the Rapid City-based non-profit educational center’s recent efforts to rescue and rehabilitate Braveheart has been for the eagle’s return to the wild. The center took charge of the bird after receiving a phone call in January from a woman who said she thought it was a hawk unable to fly for two days.

Versed in federal laws governing the endangered species, center personnel who identified it notified the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish & Parks; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Rapid City Police Department dispatch, and the veterinary clinic in Pierre that runs a raptor rehabilitation facility.

Veterinarian Virginia Trexler-Myron, who has a permit for eagle rehabilitation, determined that Braveheart had a bruised elbow and a swollen eye. She suggested that after recovery the bird be released to Fort Pierre National Grassland.

Raptor Center co-founder Maggie Engler is set to tell the rest of the story at the Earth Day event. Other birds the center features are Boo, the Western screech owl; Elise, the red-tailed hawk; Icarus, the great horned owl, and Hendrix, the American kestrel.

A silent auction at the Earth Day event is designed to help the Rapid City-based nonprofit Clean Water Alliance raise funds for travel and other costs of educational outreach on the dangers of the booming uranium mining industry in South Dakota, Nebraska and Wyoming.

“Crying Earth, Rise Up!,” a women’s perspective about uranium’s effect on air, land and water in the northern Plains, is being made in collaboration between the Chicago-based Prairie Dust Films and Lakota Media Project, which is a young Native American filmmaker’s endeavor.

The movie was featured in a November forum in Chicago called “From Pine Ridge to Chicago,” a festival of Native and environmental activism providing an opportunity for engagement between urban and rural communities.

In Rapid City, an exposition of bicycles, other non-fuel vehicles and low-fuel vehicles will be part of the Earth Day event, encouraging people to reduce their energy consumption in the interest of a safer environment. The Isaac Walton League is co-sponsoring the event with the Clean Water Alliance.

For further information about the Rapid City celebration, contact Mary Jo Farrington at (605) 716-5166. In Brookings, Habitat for Humanity ReStore and Dakota Rural Action are sponsoring an Earth Day event on April 21, featuring a showing of the movie “My Father’s Garden” followed by discussion led by Madison organic farmer Charlie Johnson.

From 6 to 9 p.m., a family-style buffet featuring local foods will be offered with a suggested donation of $12 per person. The event is scheduled at Habitat for Humanity ReStore at 917 West Highway 14 Bypass. Earth Day is observed annually on April 22.

(Contact Talli Nauman at talli.nauman@gmail.com)

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