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Tribes oppose planned bioterror tests near Oklahoma graves

TULSA, Okla. – Five Native American tribes that own an Oklahoma site where the U.S. Department of Homeland Security intends to conduct bioterrorism drills next year now oppose the government’s plan.

The Oklahoma-based Council of Confederated Chilocco Tribes says the federal agency didn’t inform the five tribes that it was releasing “potentially dangerous substances” on grounds where more than 100 children are buried. The council released a statement this past week opposing the tests.

The site outside of Newkirk was a federally run Indian boarding school. It operated from the late 1800s until 1980. The tribes consider the land to be sacred because of the cemetery.

The government plans to release what it says are inert chemicals into the atmosphere near the closed school to see if the powder could get into homes and buildings.

The department says the test is to determine how protected people would be when staying inside if biological agents are used in a terror attack.

The government insists the chemicals it wants to use are harmless. Some are found in sunscreens or laundry detergents. One, called DiPel, is a biological insecticide.