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Deb Abrahamson, environmental activist on Spokane Reservation, dies at 66 via KREM2

Author: Morgan Trau (KREM)

The Spokane Tribe blames mining pollution and uranium contamination for the cancer that ultimately took Abrahamson’s life.

SPOKANE COUNTY, Wash — A life of service was cut short on New Year’s Day. Longtime activist on the Spokane reservation, 66-year-old Deb Abrahamson, died after battling cancer for half a decade.

Born on the Colville Indian reservation in March 1954, Abrahamson made her life goal to leave the world better than she encountered it. She led the Spokane Tribe of Indians in a fight against nuclear energy and for the preservation of a clean earth, chair of the elected leadership of the tribe Carol Evans said.


Abrahamson led a life of conviction, helping hold powerful people accountable, whether it was federal and state agencies, mining companies, attorneys or tribal council, said Hill.

“She was a servant for the environment, speaking out for the water, air, and land because they could not speak speaking out for the animals, because they can’t speak the way we speak,” Evans added.


The tight-knit community was strung together by Abrahamson. She helped run the clean and sober house on the reservation. She was active with MMIW,  Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women, a coalition dedicated to stop violence against Indigenous women, girls and Two Spirit.

“She always spoke truth to power,” Evans added. “She did it in a way that people listen.” 

She was known for speaking her mind and sharing her traditional tribal knowledge, as well as the legal and science knowledge. On the same day that she wove baskets, picked berries and got medicine, she would argue with EPA lawyers about the reservations legal rights.

“This was an Indigenous, Indian woman with so much intelligence, who chose to follow her calling, her indigenous roots, her way that was taught to her as she grew up,” Evans said.

She was family to everyone she encountered, touching the lives of thousands of Indigenous people across the county. The woman say Abrahamson’s children and grandchildren were the ones that gave her the most will to keep surviving. 


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