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Native Americans fear loss of culture over Trump’s border wall

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“Loss of culture”?  Are they kidding me?  So this is what they are now going to throw at The People as they start their protests and occupations of land down in Arizona?  Sounds to me like they have been aiding and abetting illegal immigration for at least a hundred years.

Oh, by the way…they are heavily into the gaming industry.  Do you think that their culture already changed?  Desert Diamond Casinos and Entertainment

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CHUKUT KUK, Arizona – Ever since he can remember, Richard Saunders has seen families cross the fence on his Native American reservation in southern Arizona, where the U.S.-Mexican border splits his tribe’s land in two, to seek work, see a doctor or go to school.

Laborers from Mexico would stop by his grandfather’s house on the U.S. side of the reservation, the ancestral home of the Tohono O’odham nation, which today is marked off by a barrier of loosely spaced metal bars designed to block vehicles between the two nations.

“He’d stand out there and converse with them, take a shot of tequila. Grandma would make them some burritos, and they’d be on their way,” recalled Saunders, a senior figure in the nation’s administration, heading its public safety department.

But Saunders and other nation members fear U.S. President Donald Trump’s plan to sever their land with a border wall will be no different to slicing through their culture and their community.

“If I was to walk into your home and build a wall right in the middle of your house, how would you like that?” said Verlon Jose, vice chairman of the Tohono O’odham, whose name means “Desert People.”

“Over my dead body will this happen,” Jose told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

For more than a century, the Tohono O’odham – like other Native Americans – have seen their ancestral lands shrink as a result of hundreds of broken land deals with the U.S. government in its westward expansion in the 1800s.

Of the 2,200-mile border wall that Trump says will stop drugs, crime and rapists from Mexico, 62 miles would run through Tohono O’odham land, putting most of the reservation, which is slightly larger than Lebanon, in the United States and a smaller piece in Mexico’s Sonora state.

For now, the border barrier, with three gates for the American Indians to use, zig-zags around cactus, river beds and ancient burial sites, letting through the desert’s jaguar, deer, pig-like javelinas, venomous Gila monster lizards and poisonous sidewinder snakes.

Francine Jose, 50, a cousin of the tribe’s vice chairman, lives about four miles from the border. About 10,000 people live north of the border, where the schools, commerce and services are located, and 2,000 more live on the Mexican side.

“I think about the Berlin Wall,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “Why do we have to hate or be mad at the country next to us?”

OPPOSITION

The Tohono O’odham’s government has not ruled out a high-profile protest similar to one that began last August in the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, where activists camped for months in opposition to a proposed oil pipeline in North Dakota.

At its height, thousands of protesters gathered at Standing Rock, and more than 700 were arrested. The protest ended after efforts to stop the pipeline lost in court.

“It could turn into that,” said Verlon Jose, 50. “If we’re to see bulldozers start to come in, we will not be standing alone.”

However, he is encouraged by Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, who recently said it was “unlikely that we will build a wall or physical barrier from sea to shining sea.”

Tribal leaders say the border could be best protected with high-powered surveillance cameras, better access roads and more personnel.

The harsh desert itself, with no year-round sources of running water, is an effective deterrent. Once across the border, the nearest main roads lie 20 miles north.

Last year, the bodies of 85 migrants were found on the reservation, compared with 16 so far this year, significantly down from years when more than 100 were found, Saunders said.

Even though barbed wire along the border was replaced by the sturdier vehicle barrier in 2006 – in response to the rise of Mexican drug-smuggling cartels and security fears after the 9/11 attacks – evidence of stealthy crossings is easy to spot.

Drug traffickers leave behind cloth slippers with carpeted soles, used to obliterate their footprints.

Abandoned black plastic water jugs are strewn amid the towering Saguaro cactus, poignant signs of thirst that can kill in the desert where summer temperatures are typically well above 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Crisscrossed with dry stream beds, or washes, that flood during the violent summer monsoon season, the landscape burns under a relentless sun. Turkey vultures circle, and a few longhorn cattle huddle under the mesquite trees.

BROKEN TREATY?

Tohono O’odham was under Mexican jurisdiction before its modern borders around 2.8 million acres of territory were laid out in a 19th century land deal between the neighboring nations.

Under U.S. law, Native American reservations are sovereign nations that govern themselves, and building a border wall through Tohono O’odham land would amount to a treaty being broken by the U.S. government, said Carlos Veléz-Ibáñez, Regents’ professor and founding director emeritus of the School of Transborder Studies at Arizona State University.

“Indigenous populations on their land have treaty rights, and they’re treated as nations, and they’re recognized as nations,” he said. “Trump and Co. would in fact be violating the treaty rights of indigenous nations.”

© Rick Wilking A boundary monument marking the U.S.-Mexico border is shown from the Tohono O’odham reservation in Chukut Kuk, Arizona, looking into Mexico. Asked about Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain’s position on the reservation wall, McCain’s office did not respond. He told CNN the wall was not a “viable option” and that border security needs technology and drones.

The state’s other U.S. senator, Republican Jeff Flake, said in an email that the most effective border security “might mean a wall in some places or a fence in others, as well as the right combination of manpower and surveillance.”

“Arizona communities along the border should be a part of the discussion and planning as they are of the most affected,” he wrote.

Tohono O’odham Tribal Police, with nearly 100 officers, work with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which has more than 1,000 agents at the reservation, said Saunders.

It’s only fitting that the Tohono O’odham, who have hunted, gathered food and grown crops for thousands of years in the region, are caught up in issues of border protection, Jose said.

“It is embedded in our culture to protect. Not to own, but to protect,” said Jose. “That is what we are doing.”

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3 Comments

  1. Angus Rangus April 16, 2017 at 8:19 am -  Reply

    Yes, indeed our local Miccosukee Indians in Florida …

    … are boldly allowing a ‘few changes’ into their tribal customs…

    … the average adult Miccosukee receives over $20,000 EACH AND EVERY MONTH from their tribal share of the Gaming Monopoly they scammed the white men of Florida into allowing …

    SURE, they still might live in a very large ‘double-wide’ on the reservation parcel allocated them… with humongous toys parked outside the mind could not envision without the eyes taking them in!!

    HOW DUMB DOES IT GET??

    Our Bass Club was about half active/retired LEO & Firemen…
    … the Tribal Police Chief drove down the gravel access road to our L-67 Canal fishing tournament ramp…
    … to ask for the ‘owner’ of that Blue Ranger Boat…
    … and then announced he was ticketing him for exceeding 55 mph on an Indian Reservation…
    … he allegedly clocked that boat on the adjacent Alligator Alley!!

    OK… our LEO group – led by the Major of Internal Affairs … privately discussed the situation for 10 minutes with the ‘chief’… and made appropriate professional courtesies to “CLEAR” the major offense!!

    Isn’t it time we simply enforce that ALL MEN ARE EQUAL of our US Constitution…
    … AND …

    … ELIMINATE all Federal or State discriminatory references to “native” / “eskimo” / “indian” / ‘etc.’… to assure EVERY GOVT program remains ‘equal’ ??

    YEP… time also to consider how ethical it is to have a Congressional “BLACK” Caucus / National Association for the Advancement of COLORED People / United NEGRO College Fund / INDIAN gaming casinos / INDIAN reservations…
    … sure you keep title to what you got today..

    … BUT your monopoly on constant revising history to suit your ‘tribal culture’ is over!!

    GET OVER IT… TIME TO MOVE ON!!

    AND… we also need to understand Columbus had as many of his crew dying of your strange infectious diseases … as you got from them!!

  2. Angus Rangus April 16, 2017 at 8:28 am -  Reply

    Didn’t we use the BEST AVAILABLE SCIENCE…
    … in determining AFTER 9/11
    { those of the serious Commie swillsation might recall some Muslims were upset we didn’t courtsy to their JIHAD need for installing SHARIA worldwide…}

    … that only about 900 miles of our US-Mexican border was suitable for construction of “FENCING”… and passed a Federal LAW/Appropriations to construct the best available??

    … that ALL 2,200 miles of our southern border could also be improved with a VIRTUAL FENCE… and Feds spent $2 BN with Boeing – using current technology employed in every Military perimeter security – to implement for linear security??

    OK… we understand Big Sis didn’t personally like that Virtual Fence… and LIED it couldn’t ever work when beta testing revealed a few modifications were needed… so SHE UNPLUGGED THE DAMN THANG!!??

    NOW, how about finishing the REAL FENCE …

    … VIRTUAL FENCE…

    … REAL ID / I-9 audits…

    … Eliminate Federal Welfare to Illegal Aliens – including ‘tribal members’ coming “home” from Mexico????

    I”M GUESSING YA” GOT NO CULTURAL PROBLEMS WITH YOUR FLAT SCREEN TV… or Smartphones… etc, etc. et al… all your ‘tribal distributions’ allow you to buy first??

  3. Old Jim April 16, 2017 at 8:30 am -  Reply

    Can all the ‘tribal members’ of the Western European settlers of North America…

    … claim we feel culturally imperiled …

    … by allowing red, yellow or black skinned ‘cultures’ …

    … to pollute ours??

    OH, I’d be a rascist homophobe for even thunking that??

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