Tohono O’odham tribe or the pursuit of an America without borders

“We have existed before Mexico and the U.S., we will fight for an America without borders.”
Photo: Amalia Escobar/EL UNIVERSAL
02/04/2017
08:48
Amalia Escobar / Corresponsal
Sonoyta, Plutarco Elías Calles municipality, Sonora
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Millenary tribe Tohono O'odham (desert people), settled between Sonora, Mexico, and Arizona, in the U.S., claims its land in a territory that had already been divided by a wooden fence and railway, before any plans for president Trump’s border wall were made public.

The desert people are settled in the border municipalities of San Luis Río Colorado, Puerto Peñasco, Plutarco Elías Calles (Sonoyta), Caborca and Sáric, where they share a considerable portion of land with their Arizona brethren. The main gathering points for community meetings between peoples of both reserves are found in Sonora in the Pinacate reserve in Puerto Peñasco, home to the Gila, Colorado and Sonoyta rivers.

The Tohono O'odham tribe rejects Trump’s border wall as they claim they have already been severely divided by the sale of La Mesilla in 1853 by Mexican president Antonio López de Santa Anna, which gave most of its land to the U.S. in what is now known as the Arizona desert. Around 28,000 members of their tribe currently reside in Arizona, while 3,000 members reside in Sonora.

“We will never agree to a wall”, says Tohono O’odham governor in Sonora, José Martín García Lewis. He added that “The U.S. denies the right of the O’odham to live in the Sonora desert so as to impose its severe militarization in our land” and noted hat the idea of building a border wall inside the reserve is as ridiculous as cutting the Pinacate Hills in two with a killing knife.

Similarly, members of the same tribe sharing land in both Mexico and the U.S., gather in the Sáric reserve to dance, chant and invoke their millenary gods to prevent the construction of a border wall inside their sacred land. Their invocation extends to a prayer that calls for the union of all peoples, the union of “the condor and the eagle” that prevents the destruction of their beliefs triggered by the “obsessive idea for security that will not be improved with the building of a border wall”, says one of the tribe’s elders. Their prayer, they say, calls for a free America.

“Most of us are legal members of the Tohono O’odham Nation according to the U.S. laws and are denied entrance to our indigenous reserve, as if we were foreigners in our own land, just because we reside in Sonora, this is really about destroying our culture.” says Lewis, who said that he would take his protest to the UN via the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI).

“We have existed before Mexico and the U.S., we will fight for an America without borders.”, he underlined.

 

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