Farmington student named to uranium commission

Navajo Prep alum looks forward to engaging other young people on reservation as part of service

Noel Lyn Smith
  • The commission is charged with studying the impact of uranium mining and processing on Navajo land.
  • Tsinigine's maternal great-grandfather was a uranium mine worker in the Northern Agency.
  • The 18-year-old is studying secondary education in the Navajo language at San Juan College.
San Juan College student Adriano Tsinigine has been appointed to a five-year term as a member of the Diné Uranium Remediation Advisory Commission.

FARMINGTON — One reason Adriano Tsinigine applied to serve on a Navajo Nation advisory commission that focuses on the impact of uranium mining was to give young people a voice in addressing the issue.

Tsinigine, 18, was appointed last week to the Diné Uranium Remediation Advisory Commission, where he will serve as the youth member for five years.

The 11-member commission is charged with studying the impact of uranium mining and processing on the Navajo Nation and making recommendations to the tribal president and the Navajo Nation Council for policies, laws and regulations.

Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye said in a press release he was pleased to appoint Tsinigine and Northern Arizona University doctoral student Tommy Rock to the commission.

"We look forward to seeing how the commission will ensure proper remediation of uranium sites on the Navajo Nation for future generations," Begaye said.

The appointments do not require confirmation by the tribal council, according to the president's office.

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Tsinigine called the appointment a "high honor" and said he looks forward to learning more about the effects of uranium contamination and about the tribal government.

"As youth, we're the future leaders. We're going to be there dealing with the tribal politics and dealing with the issues that pertain to uranium and coal mining," he said.

He applied for the position because he wanted to lend his voice and insight as a young tribal member.

As part of his service, he would like to engage other young people by visiting schools on the reservation, talking about the history of uranium and sharing information about its impact on the environment and people's health.

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Tsinigine's maternal great-grandfather was a uranium mine worker in the Northern Agency, and his maternal grandmother died from cancer, which was attributed to uranium contamination.

Tsinigine graduated from Navajo Preparatory School in May and is completing his second semester at San Juan College, where he is studying secondary education in the Navajo language.

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Triston Black has known Tsinigine for three years, and they both held class office in the Navajo Prep student senate. Black said Tsinigine will be a valuable asset to the commission because he has a strong understanding of Navajo culture and can offer insight into what older Navajos think about uranium.

"I wish him the best," Black said.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636.