Created along with Bead/Glass artist Hannah Rosner
THE STORY BEHIND “YELLOW DUST MASK”
The Navaho tell the following story about their origin: When the Dineh (the people) emerged from the Third world into the fourth and present world, the gods gave them a choice between two yellow powders. They were asked to choose between the yellow dust from the rocks and earth and the yellow corn pollen. The Dineh chose corn pollen, and the gods were pleased. They told the Dineh that now that they had chosen, they were to leave the yellow dust in the earth. If it were ever removed, it would bring evil & disease.
In the late part of World War II, the government and Enrico Fermi began to test atomic bombs in New Mexico. Needed for the bombs was uranium, also available from that area. The yellow sandstone was blasted from the soil, leaving behind the rich uranium for government use. Both the Navaho and Hopi tribes were affected by this action; they were hired to work in the mines without protection from the dust, the radiation, and from uranium poisoning. Many developed cancer, and breathing problems , a lung disease known as silicosis from the glass-sharp fragments in the dusty air.
This mask tells the story of these fatal mines, when the yellow dust was removed from the earth, of the fruitless fight in Congress during the 40’s, and then again the win of the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act more than 50 years later, in 1990. Steve and Hannah were researching American Indian myths when they ran across a book on the law suit. Further, it tells of the fatal diseases that the testing,mining and pollution left for the Indian Nations.
Cow skin Suede, wood, glass, amber, moss agate, horn, fish vertebrae, snowflake obsidian, fossil, clay, brass, jasper, amethyst, tourmilated quartz, Biwa pearls, ostrich egg beads, waxed linen, diodes, resistors, copper wire, Turkey & Coque Feathers, Gas Mask.
You can visit Hannah’s other works at: http://www.goodrivergalleries.com/