September 29, 2017 @ 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Coconino Center for the Arts

SCI Talks is special event of short, TED Talk-style presentations produced by the Flagstaff Festival of Science. The event features four different science lectures on topics from ranging from mammoths to art, and plagues to education.

The topics and speakers for 2017 SCI Talks are:

Serendipity in Science: A Mammoth Project, presented by David Gillette Ph.D., Colbert Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology at Museum of Northern Arizona.

Tracking Worldwide Plague Transmission Across Thousands of Years Using Ancient DNA, presented by Jason Sahl,  Ph.D., Assistant Professor in Department of Biological Sciences at Northern Arizona University (NAU).

BASIS Senior Projects: High Achievement Meets Creativity, presented by Alicia Vaughan, Ph.D., Director of Student Affairs at BASIS Flagstaff.

Unfolding the Meaning of Art: Impact on the Maker, Viewer, and Community, presented by Ann Collier, Ph.D., Assistant Professor in Clinical Psychology at NAU.

Doors will open at 6:00pm, with the Hope and Trauma in a Poisoned Land exhibition open. The event begins at 6:30pm. SCI Talks are free and open to the public.

This event is part of Hope and Trauma in a Poisoned Land, the new exhibition that explores the impact of uranium mining on Navajo lands and people. The art exhibition will feature work by more than two dozen artists, including Navajo and Native artists. It will be open to the public August 15 – October 28, 2017.

Through the participating artists, Hope and Trauma will share stories and perspectives from Navajo people of their experiences due to radiation-related impacts to their bodies, their land, their water, their animals, and the natural materials and objects they use in their everyday lives. Art work will be based on a series of interactions, shared stories, and educational programs that took place in Cameron, Arizona, and in Flagstaff, in October 2016. Artists attended a four-day intensive education program which immersed them in the landscape where uranium mining and contamination has occurred on the Navajo Nation. They learned from Navajo community members, scientists, health care professionals, mental health professionals, and other experts about the impacts of uranium mining.

This blockbuster exhibition is funded in part through a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

From 1944 to 1986, nearly 30 million tons of uranium ore were extracted from Navajo lands. At the time, Navajo miners and residents were not informed of the health impacts of working in the mines, or of the impact on their lands. Many Navajo people have died of kidney failure and cancer from conditions linked to uranium contamination. Research from the CDC shows uranium in babies born now.

More than one thousand abandoned uranium mines are located on the Navajo reservation in northeastern Arizona, Utah and New Mexico. Hundreds are located within fifty miles of Flagstaff near and in Cameron, Arizona. The federal government recently agreed to commit over $1 billion to clean up 94 abandoned mines on the Navajo Nation. The estimated cost to clean up all abandoned mines is likely too large to calculate.

Map of abandoned mines on the Navajo Nation. Click on image for a larger view.

Hope and Trauma in a Poisoned Land is a partnership between the Cameron Chapter House of the Navajo Nation, the Flagstaff Arts Council, University of New Mexico Community Environmental Health Program, and Northern Arizona University.

Project partners followed the established model for art exhibitions that began with Fires of Change. That exhibition also featured a week-long training for participating artists that covered forest and fire ecology, giving artists education insight into the increase in size and frequency of wildfires in the American southwest, with a focus on Northern Arizona. This process ensures that participating artists are educated and informed about the complex issue of uranium mining before they created artwork for the exhibition.

Hope and Trauma will feature several educational events to be scheduled during the run of the exhibition. See the listing of events on the column at left on this page.