Interns to help Native Americans exposed to radiation

attorney general

Representatives from the U.S. Justice Department will be on campus Monday to encourage students to apply for a new internship program to help Native Americans in the Four Corners Region who were exposed to radiation during the Cold War.

The department will employ students part time to conduct intensive outreach efforts with Native Americans and their families whose work in the uranium industry may entitle them to compensation under the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act. The internship includes a two-week training period in Washington, D.C.

Tony West, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Civil Division, will speak to Northern Arizona University students March 29 during an invitation-only luncheon in the University Union. He will address students at the University of New Mexico in Gallup on March 30 and at Diné College in Shiprock, N.M., on March 31.

David Camacho, special assistant to the president for Diversity and Equity, and Joe Martin, special adviser to the president on Native American issues, are organizing the event and are serving as liaisons between the students and the Justice Department.

The Radiation Exposure Compensation Act seeks to compensate individuals who contracted certain cancers or other serious diseases after being exposed to radiation through nuclear weapons tests or work in the uranium mining industry between 1942 and 1971.

Although the program has awarded compensation to individuals residing in every state, most applications are filed by people living in the Four Corners region, according to the Justice Department. Culture, tradition and custom sometimes present special concerns for Native American claimants that may make successful claims more difficult when compared with the general population.

Students will be recruited from tribal communities in the Four Corners region and will receive instruction in federal law, government service and community outreach.

“The RECA program is an important part of the attorney general’s commitment to this administration’s work in strengthening the nation-to-nation relationship with tribal governments,” West said. “We want to ensure that all eligible applicants have access to the program, which is why we’re continually seeking to improve our outreach efforts. In addition to helping us reach those Cold War Patriots who are suffering and are entitled to compensation, this internship program will provide much needed summer jobs to bright students looking for an opportunity to serve.”

Applications are available at, or students may call (202) 616-4304 or e-mail to have an application mailed to them.