Traditional sheep consumption by Navajo people in Cameron, Arizona

Tommy Rock, Ricky Camplain, Nicolette I. Teufel-Shone, Jani C. Ingram

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Over 500 abandoned uranium mines are located on the Navajo Reservation. Different pathways of environmental uranium exposure have been studied with respect to the Navajo people including water, soil, and plants; however, uranium exposure from traditional Navajo food, specifically mutton (sheep), has not been reported. This study focuses on mutton consumption in the small community of Cameron, Arizona, located in the southwestern region of the Navajo Nation and initiated after community members expressed concern with the uranium exposure of their sheep. Preliminary investigation into the presence of uranium in sheep raised near Cameron showed elevated uranium levels in the kidneys the sheep tested. The goal of this study is to investigate mutton consumption among the Navajo living in Cameron. Mutton is a traditional food of the Navajo, but consumption practices are not well documented. An important aspect of determining the extent of exposure through food consumption is to assess the frequency of consumption. The results of this study indicate the Cameron participants consume mutton most commonly at family gatherings or celebrations. The survey suggests that less mutton is consumed now compared to the past, and there is concern that contaminated mutton may change traditional ceremonies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number4195
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Volume16
Issue number21
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2019

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Keywords

  • Abandoned mines
  • Consumption
  • Navajo
  • Traditional food

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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