Monday, February 13, 2012

Deb Abrahamson Honored For Protecting Spokane River

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News Advisory
February 14, 2012

Two women honored for protecting Spokane River, Aquifer

Deb Abrahamson working to clean up uranium mine wastes on Spokane Indian Reservation; Mary Verner advocated for aquifer protection and water stewardship.

What:  Winter Waters – 2012, an annual event celebrating the Spokane River and Aquifer, honors citizens who have led efforts to protect and restore these waters.  The event is hosted by the Upper Columbia River Group – Sierra Club, and the Center for Environmental Law & Policy (CELP).  

A sonnet written by poet and filmmaker Sherman Alexie honoring Deb Abrahamson will be read at the event.

When:  Saturday, February 18, 6:30 – 10 p.m.

Where:  Patsy Clark Mansion (2208 W. Second Ave) Spokane

Who:   Honoree:  Mary Verner – distinguished Spokane Mayor and City Councilwoman, 2004 – 2011
            Honoree:  Deb Abrahamson – founder of the tribal grassroots environmental organization S.H.A.W.L. Society

Tickets:  $25.  (for more information on the event, people may call 509.209-2899)

Event sponsors:  Eyman, Allison, Hunter, Jones P.S., EnviroScience, Water Sentinels of Sierra Club, Fred Christ Painting


Each year the Upper Columbia River Group - Sierra Club and CELP host Winter Waters, celebrating the Spokane River and Aquifer.  This event honors and highlights citizens who have taken extraordinary steps to protect the waters upon which our communities depend. This year, we are proud to announce two exceptional women, Deb Abrahamson and Mary Verner, as our 2012 Spokane Watershed Heroes.

Deb Abrahamson is a member of the Spokane Tribe, and founder and director of the grassroots advocacy organization, SHAWL Society.  SHAWL (standing for Sovereignty, Health Air, Water, Land) Society is located on the Spokane Indian Reservation.

Its primary mission is to promote community education and strategies to address radiation contamination and exposure on the Spokane Reservation.

Radiation contamination on the Spokane Reservation?  It surprises many to learn that Dawn Mining Co. exploited uranium deposits on the Reservation between 1955 and 1981.  They left behind millions of tons of waste rock and toxic ore.  Open pits are filled with contaminated wastewater, which drains above and below ground into Blue Creek, which discharges into the Spokane Arm of Lake Roosevelt. 

Deb Abrahamson is a powerful voice seeking justice for tribal members who have been exposed to Dawn Mining’s toxic legacy.  She speaks eloquently of the need to maintain traditional food gathering and other lifeways and the conflicts caused when rock, air, water, vegetation, fish and wildlife are contaminated with uranium waste.  Sierra Club salutes Deb for her vision, and for her personal commitment to speak to fundamental issues of environmental justice and caring for the people of the Spokane Reservation.

Mary Verner

Mary Verner served on the City Council and as Spokane mayor from 2003 – 2011, and is a long-time advocate for the Spokane watershed.  Mary came to the Spokane area in 1992, and founded the Spokane Tribe’s Natural Resources Department.  She served as director of the regional tribal consortium, Upper Columbia United Tribes.  She was appointed to Spokane City Council in 2003 and served in that position and as mayor through 2011. 

As an elected official, Mary took many actions to promote protection of the Spokane Aquifer, drinking water source for our region’s half-million residents and the Spokane River.  From establishing a Sustainability Task Force to her deep commitment to water conservation and stewardship, Mary has been a tenacious advocate for the River and Aquifer.  In recognizing Mary Verner as a Spokane Watershed Hero, we thank her for her service to our community and welcome her next steps, which will undoubtedly reflect her continued commitment to environmental protection and restoration.

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