This blog is going to be quite personal, as it is based on a story from a woman who helped remind my hometown about the importance of living in an environment that does not harm your health. Her name was Thelma Moton, and she wrote a heartfelt article called “Somewhere Sequoyah is Weeping.” Reading her story, I was suddenly overcome with sadness and grief for her. This woman helped remind me of the importance of our personal health as well as caring about the health of our environment. Nature is a part of who we are and gives us the air that we breathe.
To summarize her story, she and her husband retired in Sequoya country by Lake Tenkiller in the 1960s. They both noticed the distinct lack of animals. The area where Thelma lived had barely any jobs for the community, that is why there was a Sequoya Fuels Corporation plant near her home. The yellow dust around her hometown came from this facility for uranium conversion that produced radioactive waste. Thelma and her sister Wanda continued to protest for the health of the environment and their people. It was not until the 1990s that the plant closed and then finally in the year 2018 the Cherokee Nation and the state of Oklahoma announced that Sequoya Fuels had removed the raffinate dust “yellow dust” and hexafluoride acid from the site.
Sadly, Thelma’s life was full of tragedy due to the unknown toxic environment around her community. She lost her friends, her husband, and her family. As human beings, we cannot refuse to be apart from nature. The trees give us oxygen, the sun makes our bodies strong, and just by seeing nature, it soothes one’s soul.
When I read her story, it emphasized to me that overall life is a balance. Love Mother Nature and cherish the life that she gives you.
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