The River is in Us: Fighting Toxics in a Mohawk Community

Tuesday, Apr 10, 2018 | 3:00 pm - 4:30 pm

554 Barrows Hall, UC Berkeley
Location is ADA accessible

The River is in Us: Fighting Toxics in a Mohawk Community
Elizabeth Hoover, Brown University

As a Native community downwind, downstream and down gradient from one federal and two New York State Superfund sites, Akwesasne Mohawks have had their share of concerns about the impacts of contamination on the health of their bodies, culture, and environment. Akwesasne formerly relied on fishing and farming for its livelihood until it was discovered in the 1970s and 1980s that neighboring industries had released fluoride into the air and PCBs into the river that bisects the community. This discovery led Akwesasne community members to embark on a decade-long community based participatory research project (CBPR) with a large university in an attempt to determine if it was safe for Mohawk mothers to breastfeed their babies, and if the overall health of the community had been impacted by exposure to contamination. Based on ethnographic and archival research, this presentation discusses the benefits and challenges of CBPR for effective research in Native American communities; the collateral impacts of environmental contamination on Indigenous health, culture and food systems; and the inspiring ways in which this community is developing programs to ensure their own resiliency.

This event is co-sponsored by the Indigenous Americas Working Group, Native American Studies, and the Berkeley Food Institute.

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