Patrick Nagatani

(Chicago, Illinois, 1945 - October 27, 2017)

Golden Eagle, United Nuclear Corporation Uranium Mill and Tailings, Church Rock

From the series "Nuclear Enchantment"


Ilfocolor print

20 x 24 in. (50.8 x 61.0 cm)

Collection of the Akron Art Museum

Gift of George Stephanopoulos


More Information

The eagle is a symbol of recovery, power and authority in many cultures including Native American and Japanese. Here a golden eagle borrowed from a woodblock print by Hiroshige soars above the United Nuclear Corporation’s uranium mill in Church Rock, New Mexico. The mill, operating from 1977 to 1982, utilized an acid leach process to extract uranium, producing wet radioactive waste known as “tailings.” At this site, only a mile from the Navajo Reservation, 3.5 million tons of tailings were dumped. On July 16, 1979, a dam at the mill broke, releasing 90 million gallons of radioactive material into the Rio Puerco, the main water source for 350 Navajo families.

United States