The Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 proposed a plan to dispose of commercial power plant wastes, to conduct environmental investigations, and to involve Native Americans in site selection proceedings. A national search for a site where a high -level radioactive waste facility could be located culminated in the environmental assessment studies recommending three candidate sites for further consideration: Hanford, Washington; Deaf Smith, Texas; and Yucca Mountain, Nevada.

When the study was initiated in 1987, the Department of Energy was beginning the site characterization activities at all three sites. The Nuclear Waste Policy Act, as amended in December 1987 by the United States Congress, specifies that site characterization studies will be conducted first at the Yucca Mountain, Nevada, candidate site. It was ultimately decided that Hanford and Deaf Smith facilities be removed from consideration and efforts be focused solely on Yucca Mountain.

The preliminary research conducted by Dr. Stoffle outlined the ethnic and tribal affiliations of the American Indian peoples who are most likely to have traditional ties to cultural resources located in the Yucca Mountain region. In keeping with that research design, this Native American cultural resource study involved three ethnic groups – Owens Valley Paiute, Southern Paiute, and Western Shoshone. Ethnographic research experience and an extensive literature review led to the selection of sixteen Indian tribes that potentially would be involved in the Yucca Mountain cultural resources project because they contain members of the three involved ethnic groups.

The Yucca Mountain cultural resources study area comprises more than 70,000 acres. Each of the cultural resource studies used this as the core study area and branched out as dictated by the nature of the cultural resources or of the information. The archaeology study was most focused on the study area because of the great amount and variety of cultural resources to be identified on and near to Yucca Mountain. The ethnobotany study expanded the study area to include neighboring springs or preserves with protected plant species so that Indian people would be able to identify plants concentrated in one area. The ethnohistory document analysis utilized a regional study area in order to derive the greatest utility from scattered written accounts.

In addition to the ethnographic reports produced for this collection, the following articles and book chapters were produced:

Stoffle, R., R. Arnold, and K. Van Vlack
2011 Yucca Mountain. In Encyclopedia of American Environmental History, Volume I, Edited by Kathleen A. Brosnan.  Pp. 1423-1424. New York, NY: Facts on File.

Stoffle, R. W., and M. Evans
1992 American Indians and Nuclear Waste Storage: The Debate at Yucca Mountain, Nevada. In Native Americans and Public Policy. F. Lyden and L. Legters, eds. Pp. 243-262. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press.

Stoffle, R. and M. Evans
1990 Holistic Conservation and Cultural Triage: American Indian Perspectives on Cultural Resources. Human Organization 49(2): 91-99.

Stoffle, R. and M. Evans
1988 American Indians and Nuclear Waste Storage: The Debate at Yucca Mountain, Nevada. Policy Studies Review 16(4): 751-767.

Stoffle, R., D. Halmo, M. Evans and J. Olmsted
1990 Calculating the Cultural Significance of American Indian Plants: Paiute and Shoshone Ethnobotany at Yucca Mountain, Nevada. American Anthropologist 92(2): 416-432.

Stoffle, R. W., D. Halmo, J. Olmsted, and M. Evans
1990 Native American Cultural Resource Studies at Yucca Mountain, Nevada. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan, Institute for Social Research.


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