Excerpted From KJZZ: Tribal leadership of Tohono O’odham Nation in southern Arizona said they won’t support a border wall project on their land. Part of their reservation extends into Mexico and covers 75 miles of the international border.
The tribe’s chairman and vice chair said the plan was always to try to work with whoever holds the office of the United States President. But, they added, it’s still too early to tell exactly how Donald Trump’s administration will impact the tribe.
Vice Chairman Verlon Jose explained tribal members have traversed their ancestral land since time immemorial, and a wall of any sort would not be supported by the community.
“Over my dead body will a wall be built,” Jose said, describing some community members’ sentiments. “I don’t wish to die but I do wish to work together with people so we can truly protect the homeland of this place they call the United States of America. Not only for our people but for the American people.” Keep reading
Excerpted From The Washington Post: For 75 miles, a swath of the Sonoran Desert in Arizona — specked with mountains and tall saguaro trees — straddles the border with Mexico. It is the Tohono O’odham Nation, a Native American reservation the size of Connecticut that for thousands of years extended south into Sonora, Mexico.
Border Patrol agents and a steel-post fence already make it difficult for the O’odham people to freely cross the border to visit relatives and traditional sacred sites in Mexico. But building a border wall, which President-elect Donald Trump has planned to do, would cement that division even further.
In light of Trump’s presidential win, Tohono O’odham Nation tribal leaders said they would refuse to support building a border wall on their land.
“Over my dead body will a wall be built,” Verlon Jose, the tribe’s vice chairman, said in an interview with local radio station KJZZ. Jose said he invites Trump to visit the reservation to see why a physical border wall would not be a good idea for the tribe or the country.
Without the tribe’s support, Trump could be forced to accept a 75-mile-wide gap in his wall.
Federal law requires the Bureau of Land Management to consult with tribal governments before making any changes to land use, as the Huffington Post noted. Trump’s only option for building a wall on the land would be through a stand-alone bill in Congress that would have to condemn the land and remove it from the trust for the Tohono O’odham nation, which is recognized by law as an autonomous tribal government.
Amy Juan, an O’odham tribe member and co-founder of the Tohono O’odham Hemajkam Rights Network, said a border wall would be “devastating,” not only for the tribe but for the animals, wildlife and water that flows across the border. It would make it even harder for tribe members to visit and care for burial sites in Mexico.
“The effects would be bigger than ourselves,” Juan said in an interview with The Washington Post. “As a people, as a community, it would be a literal separation from our home. Half of the traditional lands of our people lie in Mexico.”
Today, 28,000 members occupy Tohono O’odham land in southwestern Arizona, according to the tribe’s website. Nine O’odham communities in Mexico lie directly south of the 2.8 million-acre Tohono O’odham Nation. Much of the land is separated only by the border. Keep reading