Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Michael J. Lynch, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Kathleen M. Heide, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Lyndsay N. Boggess, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Paul B. Stretesky, Ph.D.


ecocide, green criminology, resistance, tribal


While the field of criminology has delved into environmental justice issues in Black communities through the exploration of urban exposure to toxins, it has failed to expand this research orientation to examine issues affecting peoples in different locations, which in the U.S. draws attention to the green victimization of Native Americans. In short, existing criminological research has largely ignored the social, economic, and environmental injustices experienced by Native Americans. This study addresses this research gap by exploring environmental justice issues as they relate to the ways toxic colonialism affects Native Americans. Specifically, this study confronts historic and current struggles endured by Native Americans in their resistance to ecocide, genocide, and capitalism by focusing on uranium mining in the Southwest United States. Research suggests that the majority of uranium mines and mills that ever existed in the U.S. were located on or near tribal lands, yet how that circumstance creates an unequitable distribution of ecological harms, and environmental and social injustices for Native Americans has been ignored.

To explore these issues, four research questions are generated based on findings from sociological and public health studies addressing the effects of uranium mining on the environment and human health. A case study approach is used to merge and analyze evidentiary materials from multiple data sources, including the Environmental Protection Agency, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Greenpeace, and the Grand Canyon Trust. Findings suggest several adverse environmental and health effects are associated with uranium mining operations and have genocidal consequences for Native Americans. This study concludes by discussing implications for environmental justice, environmental policy, and criminological theory. Additionally, this study provides important directions for future research.