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Emissions to Rattlesnake Mountain

The Native Americans of the Northwest regard Rattlesnake Mountain as a sacred place. They used it as a place for praying as well as a resource for hunting and gathering food. The mountain, as well as all of the 560-square-mile area that makes up the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, lies with an area where tribal members retain their traditional rights to hunt, fish, gather food and perform sacred ceremonies.

In the mid-1950s, as a way to provide protection for the Hanford site, the U.S. government built an anti-aircraft missile-defense system on the mountain. There are still remnants of a radio tower and a few buildings on the ridge.

In 1989, Hanford converted its operations to full-scale cleanup. Since that time the Yakima Tribe has been active in monitoring and identifying sacred sites on the nuclear reservation. The area is home to numerous burial sites and remnants of ancient villages. The Yakima tribe is concerned about the harm plutonium production has done to the area.


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