At midday on Friday, August 10, 2012, a black pickup truck suddenly appeared on top of the embankment along State Route 37 above the GM Powertrain Superfund Site entrance. The Onkwehonwe had come. The first words I heard Larry Thompson speak were, “We come in the name of Love”. This is so wonderful!!
The next vehicle to arrive was an SUV emblazoned with the words, US Customs and Immigration Service. Shortly after that several cars with Solidarity in Toxic Mound Removal activists pulled up. Eventually, two New York State Police cars arrived on the scene. The officers said that they were there to make sure that “no one got hurt”. In matters of environmental and public health protection, the police are showing themselves to be somewhat of an obstacle to the creation of good change. They radiate an energy that is negative toward those of us who stand up to the heavily polluting corporations and failed government. It is their role to protect the status quo and reign in those who work to bring a new order.
Larry Thompson and Dana Leigh Thompson began the One Year Anniversary Celebration of Toxic Mound Removal Activism with a ceremony, which involved burning tobacco in a traditional pipe and speaking words of prayer to the inhabitants of the spirit world. Upon finishing his prayer, Larry Thompson gave a powerful speech declaring the enduring determination of the Onkwehonwe that the Toxic Mound would be removed. It was wonderful hearing him speak with truly tranquil and deeply grounded strength of being the words of bringing this great change.
Dana Leigh Thompson spoke next. She directed our attention to the terrible suffering that exists on the Akwesasne reserve. The incidence rate for diabetes is higher here than anywhere else on Earth. She has sought information on cancer incidence at Akwesasne and found that it can not be accessed by the means used to determine cancer incidence in other areas. She said that when she typed in the zipcode for her area, the public health data retrieval system failed. She stated that she had contacted the government office responsible for providing this information and that the person she spoke with promised to help find this data. However, no help has yet been provided. What are the cancer incidence rates at Akwesasne? Anecdotal evidence indicates that they are outrageously high. Dana Leigh went on to describe testing that had been conducted at Akwesasne. She said that the world’s most heavily PCB contaminated tomato had been grown there. She recounted a sampling and analysis project that assessed contamination of turtles. The shells of unhatched turtles were tested. PCB levels were above the level classified as hazardous waste. The unborn turtles were disposed of as hazardous waste. This is the nightmare that the bad corporations and the bad government has created.
Dana Leigh offered the perfectly brilliant idea of organizing a picnic on the embankment to bring together hundreds of people in a public showing of solidarity on Toxic Mound removal. We all agreed that this would be a great next step in our enduring efforts to bring the new days of clean environment for Akwesasne.
Cancer Action NY founding member, Lewis Shepard shared his long experience in the arena of cancer prevention. Lew has a particularly unique outlook on this matter due to his employment as a research and development chemist with a major chemical corporation. He told the story of his talk with a supervisor about a book that focused upon the need for precaution in the use of chemicals due to the cancer risk associated with exposure to a considerable number of chemical substances. The supervisor was very upset by this information. Lew shared his thoughts on the R. Buckminster Fuller book, “Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth”. An early environmental activist, R. Buckminster Fuller has stated that full clean-up of contaminated areas should be done no matter what the cost.
Donald L. Hassig, Director of Cancer Action NY and the Green Party candidate in the CD 21 race spoke on the subject of federal government’s responsibility to act for the betterment of the lives of First Nations peoples. Mr. Hassig promised to continue making Toxic Mound removal a priority in his campaign and stated that if elected he would give much attention to improving the lives of the descendants of the first Americans. He has written to the US Environmental Protection Agency requesting that staff scientists come to Akwesasne to participate in an on the record public forum style meeting for the discussion of the scientific knowledge that serves as a foundation for determining the health risks associated with exposure to PCBs and other hazardous materials present in the environment to the West of the Akwesasne reserve.
Michele Porcaro, a Fourth Grade teacher and Green Party voter residing in St. Lawrence County expressed her belief that setting a good example in matters of thinking clearly and protecting the environment would augment the future ranks of environmental activists. She expressed strong determination to join in the work of accomplishing Toxic Mound removal. Michele suggested that we create a petition for Toxic Mound removal and make it available on the internet. All agreed that this was a great idea.
Janet Davis related her memories of the August 2011 day when Larry Thompson and his Onkwehonwe allies made Toxic Mound removal the hottest environmental issue in the North Country. She gave a very right-on account of how EPA staff responded to being held accountable for their bad behaviors. These US government people who sought to create the illusion that they were the friends of the people of Akwesasne were quite thrown off track by Larry Thompson’s bold move. This is it! We are the Revolution!
Janet shared her idea for educating passersby on the major routes in the vicinity of the GM Powertrain Superfund site. She suggested that we place a banner on the embankment that published the URL for a website that provided information on the Toxic Mound removal issue. All agreed that this should be done immediately. The banner http://www.environmentalgenocide.com will soon appear in the St. Lawrence River Valley on the lands of the Onkwehonwe!
A mother of two small children spoke eloquently of the need for environmental clean-up so as to bring back the days of healthy living for the upcoming generation. She said it all, “It’s our future.”
— Donald L. Hassig, Director Cancer Action NY and Cancer Action News Network; P O Box 340, Colton, NY USA 13625; 315.262.2456; http://www.canceractionny.org