Ward Valley

Desert poet, writer, activist, scholar, defender, and hiker Ruth Nolan attended a gathering of desert residents and activists celebrating the 15th anniversary of the defeat of the proposed Ward Valley nuclear waste site.  This place deep in the Mojave Desert provides a solace that is difficult to find in an age of 24/7 news coverage, tragedy and materialism.  What is easy to forget is that each of these "viewsheds" - as we call them in environmental impact statements - has a meaning and a history that is different to each individual and each generation. Ward Valley is sacred to Native American tribes, and its conversion to industrial use would have been a significant loss.

A sign points the way to the 15th anniversary of the victory that saved Ward Valley from becoming a toxic waste site.  Photo by Ruth Nolan.

Ruth Nolan captures the confluence of modern and ancient at Ward Valley in her poem that she wrote to commemorate the occasion of this victory:

Dark Medallion, Quarter Moon
--At the 15th anniversary of the defeat of a proposed radioactive waste facility in Ward Valley, an area of the Mojave Desert sacred to the Colorado River Indian people, February 10, 2013.
Near Interstate 40,
A few miles along Water Road,
In the heart of the Mojave
The deceased ancestors walk through
Ward Valley, 60 miles long
Until they reach the Milky Way
In the throat of the Turtle Mountains
And the wildcats and coyotes
Mark their paw print time
Near the Old Woman Rock Tower,
And the villagers grind grain on stone
On a February morn, before
Calendars are born. One soft moccasin
Is left behind, and it's advised
To follow the turtle for long life.
Cars speed by, stars wink goodnight.
--by Ruth Nolan copyright (c) 2013 by Ruth Nolan


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