‘Over Our Dead Bodies’: Arizona Tribe Vows To block Trump’s Border Wall On Their Land
Native Americans across the country are mounting a full resistance against Donald Trump’s authoritarian orders. The president’s proposed border wall is already facing a major obstacle in Arizona, where an indigenous tribe has vowed to block construction on its land, paving the way for potential mass resistance following the model of Standing Rock.
The Tohono O’odham Nation, a federally recognized tribe with a reservation that spans 75 miles of the US-Mexico border, announced on Thursday that it does not support the wall and blasted the Trump administration for signing the executive order, The Guardian reported.
With over 28,000 members, the tribe today has the second largest Native American land base in the country and controls 2.8 million acres of a reservation in south-western Arizona.
Indigenous leaders say the US Border Patrol has for decades significantly disrupted tribal communities and their day-to-day life leading to a long struggled with the militarized international border that was drawn through the middle of its traditional lands.
Tribal vice-chairman declared the government would build the wall “over my dead body”. Earlier in his first week in office, Trump also promised to push forward with the Dakota Access pipeline, which last year attracted an unprecedented gathering of indigenous groups to back the Standing Rock Sioux tribe in its fight against the oil project.
The O’odham people historically inhabited lands that stretched south to Sonora, Mexico, and just north of Phoenix, Arizona, and there are tribe members who still live in Mexico. The tribe today has the second largest Native American land base in the country, and indigenous people say the US Border Patrol has for decades significantly disrupted tribal communities and their day-to-day life.
“It cuts through our ancestral land, and it divides families that have been able to go back and forth freely since before the border line was drawn,” said Bradley Moreno, a Tohono O’odham member who grew up miles from the border. “Border Patrol is a way of life for us.”
Moreno, 35, said law enforcement harassment is common for indigenous people and that he has been pulled over and questioned by Border Patrol more than a dozen times.
“If a wall is built, the results would be disastrous,” Moreno said.
“It’s going to affect our sacred lands. It’s going to affect our ceremonial sites. It’s going to affect the environment. We have wildlife, and they have their own patterns of migration,” he said. “There are just so many things that are wrong with this. The whole idea behind it is just racist.”
Trump launched his campaign with a pledge to build a wall, with a speech that labeled Mexican immigrants “criminals” and “rapists”. His executive order on Wednesday calls for the building of a “contiguous, physical wall” along the southern border.
It’s unclear how Congress could attempt to finance construction, and Trump has claimed that Mexico would ultimately be forced to pay the bill. On Thursday, Mexico’s president Enrique Peña Nieto canceled a scheduled visit to meet with Trump after repeatedly stating that his nation would not fund for a wall.