Tewa Women United

**Please Note: Before reaching out to Beata or others at Tewa Women United, please consider how you plan to ensure this work will be mutually supportive and not transactional or exploitative. For example, if you hope to work with TWU, does your organization have a plan to: adequately compensate impacted community members for their time, include them in the planning process from the beginning, offer support for their work in return, build long-term relationships, and meaningfully address cultural sensitivity and racism in your own organization and work.**


Point of Contact:

  • Beata Tsosie-Peña; Environmental Health and Justice Program Coordinator
  • Contact Information: beata@tewawomenunited.org (preferred);  505-747-3259 ext. 1204

Location: Santa Cruz, NM

Website: tewawomenunited.org

Donations

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Located in the ancestral Tewa homelands of Northern New Mexico, Tewa Women United (TWU)  is a multicultural and multiracial organization founded and led by Native women. TWU started in 1989 as a support group for women from the Pueblos of the northern Rio Grande, and transitioned to a 501(c)3 non-profit organization in 2001. TWU is formed for educational, social and benevolent purposes, specifically for the ending of all forms of violence against Native women, Mother Earth, and to promote peace in New Mexico. One of TWU’s programs is Environmental Health and Justice. One of their program goals is to work on  taking a holistic approach to addressing the devastating environmental, health, and cultural harms caused by Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). For over 75 years, LANL has been dumping and discharging its toxic and radioactive wastes onto Tewa ancestral lands. The first atomic bombing was on the Peoples of New Mexico. It is TWU’s vision and prayer that these occupied lands are fully restored to pristine health and returned to the Tewa Peoples so they can heal. TWU works with tribal, local, national, and international networks and coalitions to both address specific concerns with the lab, as well as to advocate for nuclear non-proliferation.

Successes

  • Engaged in lawsuits as a core member of Communities for Clean Water Coalition against LANL to secure groundwater, stormwater, and surface water permits, resulting in one of the most stringent state stormwater standards in the country.  As a result, TWU is a direct stakeholder on future renewals or changes to these permits. This is part of their ongoing work to ensure transparency, facilitate access and engagement and ensure the proper public processes are followed, including holding public hearings and allowing public testimony. TWU has been successful in ensuring that the public is informed on these issues and has the ability to advocate on their own behalf. http://ccwnewmexico.org/
  • Collaborated  with the Los Alamos Historical Document and Retrieval Assessment project, publishing comments and contributions to the community summary and technical report as part of Las Mujeres Hablan, a coalition of women-led organizations in New Mexico that work to protect their people and lands from nuclear weapons production. https://wwwn.cdc.gov/LAHDRA/
  • In 2005-2008, ran a successful campaign with Las Mujeres Hablan to reduce plutonium pit production from 80 to 20. https://nobelwomensinitiative.org/day-16-spotlighting-las-mujeres-hablan-of-new-mexico-usa/

Current Projects

  • Continuing to demand that LANL follow the proper processes for public hearings and permitting: 
    • Working to regulate a discharge permit for a radioactive liquid waste facility at LANL under a federal hazardous waste permit instead of a less stringent state discharge permit.  
    • Working to ensure community public testimony is fully considered in regards to groundwater quality remediation of a hexavalent chromium plume, which previously underwent a corrupt public hearing process.  
    • Ongoing work to ensure public participation in the monitoring of stormwater run-off from LANL, as part of a previous settlement agreement with the lab. 
  • Advocating for clean-up of the over 250 toxic and radioactive legacy sites on LANL property. This includes clean-up of aquifer contamination to a standard that is appropriate for the indigenous communities in the area, and addressing LANL’s faulty testing and monitoring methodology.  
  • Advocating for access to sacred Indigenous sites on LANL property. 
  • Opposing the recent directive to expand plutonium pit production at LANL (and the Savannah River Site) from 20 pits a year to up to 80.
  • Advocating for new minimum standards of radiation exposure, which are currently set for a white male of western European descent and custom. This standard does not account for the different vulnerabilities of indigenous communities, especially women and children, due to their exposure history and land-based existence. 
  • Calling for additional health studies of radiation and other toxic exposure to Indigenous and land-based communities in the region. 
  • Supporting the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act Amendments of 2019, which would extend and expand compensation for impacted communities.  
  • Seeking funding for a pilot project to explore bioremediation and mycoremediation to clean up toxic and radioactive contamination in the region. 
  • Community education and outreach on these issues, to increase awareness and public participation in the monitoring and permitting process at LANL. 

Opportunities for Collaboration

  • Connect with other organizations to work within a larger framework to end militarism, a war-based economy, and nuclear colonialism in the United States. The Poor People’s Campaign is one example of this. 
  • Connecting with those working at other sites in the US nuclear weapons complex, and finding ways to work together in a more unified way. 
  • Support and work in solidarity with communities impacted by uranium mining in the Four Corners Region. 
  • Collaborating with other groups on redefining standards of protection and exposure, to take into account the vulnerabilities of Indigenous communities, and share and present analysis of ongoing environmental and scientific racism. 
  • Working with other organizations to take on more of the education and awareness work around these issues, so that TWU can put more of their time and resources into addressing the direct impacts of LANL and other types of environmental violence on their communities. 
  • Participation in a “Healing and Restoring Our Ancestral Sites Tour” in Los Alamos.
  • Volunteer or contribute to community restoration projects such as the Española Healing Foods Oasis demonstration garden, TWU site garden, Española Healing Foods Seed Library, and community environmental sampling.
  • Internship with the TWU Environmental Health and Justice Program.
  • Pro-Bono legal support.
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