Ward Valley Archive


This archive documents the late 1980s to early 2000s campaign to stop construction of a nuclear waste landfill in the Mojave Desert’s Ward Valley near the California/Arizona border. The Fort Mojave, Chemehuevi, Quechan, Cocopah, and the Colorado River Indian Tribes partnered with a diverse array of other environmentalists to oppose the landfill. They revived tribal traditions, built support from national celebrities, and hosted visits from survivors of nuclear disasters at Three Mile Island, Hiroshima and Chernobyl. After a decade of activism they staged a 113-day occupation of the federally owned land where the landfill was to be built, drawing on the legacy of the Wounded Knee occupation while prefiguring the 2016 Standing Rock occupation in North Dakota. Every February since their victory in 1998, campaign participants have gathered at the site of the proposed landfill to commemorate the victory and practice cultural rites. In this way, the story of the Ward Valley struggle has been kept alive through oral tradition within the circle of former-participants and their friends and family. Now this archive makes their story available to a broader audience.