Dine' CARE
Anna Frazier    (520) 657-3291
Lori Goodman (970) 259-0199
February 09, 2000


Ex- RECA lobbyists formally withdraws from Navajo Nation

Dilkon, Arizona – Navajo Nation USA

In a letter to Navajo Nation President Kelsey Begay, Washington lobbyist
E. Cooper Brown recently announced his official withdrawal from any
relationship with the Navajo Nation on the reform of the Radiation
Exposure Compensation Act. The environmental and social justice
organization Diné Citizens Against Ruining our Environment would like to
acknowledge this turn of events, but also to respectfully request that
our Council members continue to pursue an audit of Mr. Brown.

We press this issue for two reasons.  First, Mr. Brown’s firm received
roughly half a million dollars of Tribal funds, and produced no positive
result.  We feel it is important that the Council understand what went
wrong, in terms of oversight, reporting, and accountability, in order to
avoid similar problems in the future. As Earl Tully, Vice-president of
Dine’ CARE stated, “Mr. Brown does not have to live with the disruption
that he leaves behind - a Navajo Nation RECA reform effort that is
laughed at in Washington as the 'Cummins and Brown retirement fund' and
several Navajo tribal officials who have lost their credibility as
leaders on this issue due to Mr. Brown's betrayal of their faith in him
as the 'great white Washington lawyer'.”

Second, through our extensive contact with other grassroots
organizations throughout the United States, we have reason to believe
that Mr. Brown’s recent activities are actually part of a broader
pattern of a few individuals exploiting radiation victims for their own
financial benefit.

The timing of Mr. Brown’s withdrawal makes us think that Mr. Brown must
want to move on to greener (and safer) pastures.  We guess that the
greener pastures Mr. Brown sees are the 600,000 nuclear weapons workers
who have been exposed to radiation and chemicals for the past several
decades.  Just last month, the Clinton administration began talking
about proposed compensation legislation for these workers, a proposal
developed by Mr. Brown's long-time associates.

We note just three incidents of inappropriate professional conduct that
we are aware of. In the early 1980’s, Mr. Brown and his associates were
removed by the board of the National Association of Atomic Veterans due
to accountability issues. In the early 1990’s, the Nuclear Claims
Tribunal of the Marshall Islands connected Mr. Brown with financial
misappropriations by a local government authority that he represented.
Later in the 1990’s, while acting as director of the National Committee
for Radiation Victims and as a member of the Task Force on Radiation and
Human Rights, Mr. Brown also acted as private attorney for radiation
experiment victims – a position of conflict of interests that again left
a trail of mistrust and bitterness among radiation impacted communities.

Our social structure relies heavily on our interconnection with others
through systems of clan relations, where one’s merit is measured by
their civic duty to their communities.  Through our activism with
radiation victims, we have found new relations – our sense of commitment
to victims now extends beyond the Four Sacred Mountains. We offer to our
new relations to work towards that goal of replacing the power
structures that limit the input of local people on the decisions and
policies that affect their lives. We must let all victims know they are
not alone.