Kami and Lane Miller at their home on the Moapa Band of Paiutes Reservation in Nevada. | Ami Vitale/Panos Pictures Lane Miller demonstrates using his nebulizer in his home on Nevada's Moapa Band of Paiutes Reservation. "At least once a month he has to use a nebulizer to open up his lungs," his mother, Kami, said. "If I neglect it, he has to go on steroids or it can turn into pneumonia or bronchitis." | Ami Vitale/Panos Pictures "He's a little bleeding heart," Kami Miller said of son Lane. "When he hears his mommy cry, he gets a little teary-eyed himself." Lane Miller swings in hammock outside his home on the Moapa Band of Paiutes Reservation. | Ami Vitale/Panos Pictures

Kami Miller
Moapa, Nevada

Growing up here, everyone knew everybody. We were active. We had a little park down the road. There was a swing set, slide, the little bendable horses.

It was fun. We had trails in the hills. You just walked around. No technology or the advances they have now, where everybody just stays inside.

We were living here in Moapa when I was born. Then we moved to Vegas but came back when I was 10. That's when I started having to use an inhaler. I'm 37 now and I still use it. A month ago I went to Oregon and didn't use my inhaler at all. But as soon as I got back to our area, I was sucking on it.

My son has the same problems. He has an inhaler, and at least once a month he has to use a nebulizer to open up his lungs. If I neglect it, he has to go on steroids or it can turn into pneumonia or bronchitis.

These people who come in and haul away the fly ash from the plant say it's not harmful. But I say, "If it's not harmful, why does your wife have to check you to make sure you didn't bring any into the house? Why does the paint peel on your vehicle after you've been out there on a rainy day?"

Sometimes I wonder, Where did my son's autism come from? I grew up on the hill above the tribal building, and I always wonder if it started there, with his development, because that's where I was living when I was pregnant with him. The dust from the plant would come through the valley and then come up to us. We lived there for 10 years, and then I inherited a house down here, closer to the plant.

It's a miracle when people reach age landmarks here. Fifty is a miracle around here. I left last week for a business meeting and came home to two elders, two brothers, in the hospital. The driver who picked us up is like, "Russell and Calvin are in the hospital." For those two brothers to be in the hospital at the same time, how do you deal with that? They have another brother, Randy, and in one fell swoop there could be just the one brother left.

We have a small cemetery with little family plots, and ours is filling up. It's kind of warped, because we're like, "We might have to move our family plot to accommodate all the people who are dying."

I hope to be buried there, but I don't see it in the near future--at least I hope not. I have a son to look out for. My lungs, you know, if they don't hold up . . . or what if it moves to where my heart doesn't work? It makes a deep impact, because I want to be here for my son.

It's OK, sweetie. Mommy's just crying because she's happy, OK? He's a little bleeding heart. When he hears his mom cry, he gets a little teary-eyed himself. (Interviewed July 19, 2012)

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