San Ildefonso and Santa Clara

A concern for many New Mexicans is the Los Alamos National Labs (LANL) in northern New Mexico. The history of LANL is one of colonialization and contamination. During WW2 the US Federal Government took land, with a promise to return it, from native people and turned it into what is now Los Alamos. The labs brought devastation to the surrounding communities especially the pueblos of San Ildefonso and Santa Clara. In the very enlightening book Nuclear Natures by Jake Kosek, Jake tells how these communities have especially high levels of cancer particularly of the thyroid (pg. 246). He explains that this is likely due to Lanthanum testing carried out in Bayo Canyon (pg. 247-248).


Not only did LANL carry out dangerous tests, but they also introduced severe contamination to the land by dumping radioactive waste in the surrounding areas. A report from Sacred Trust NM claims that LANL dumped “Over 21 million cubic feet of radioactive waste… in unlined, trenches and shafts…” All of this dumping has led to a very toxic environment surrounding LANL. Unfortunately, communities like San Ildefonso and Santa Clara take the brunt of the contamination coming from LANL (Kosek 246).


The most important thing we can all do for these communities is petition through activism to stop LANL from creating new radioactive waste. To learn more about the northern New Mexico-area activism opportunities, please visit Tewa Women United's website.