May  2008

Tohono O'odham Nation Chairman Ned Norris Jr.
Testifies to Congress about the Negative Effects
of the Border Wall Construction

On April 28th, 2008 Tohono O'odham Nation Chairman Ned Norris Jr. gave testimony to the
Subcommittee on Fisheries Wildlife and Oceans and Subcommittee on National Parks,
Forests, and Public Lands of the House Committee on Natural Resources at their Oversight
Hearing “Walls and Waivers: Expedited Construction of the Southern Border Wall and Collateral
Impacts to Communities and the Environment.”
  At the start of his testimony to the House Committee, Tohono O'odham Nation Chairman Ned Norris began as
follows:

 
 "The Tohono O’odham Nation is negatively impacted by the border...We are older than the international
boundary with Mexico and had no role in creating the border. But our land is now cut in half, with O’odham
communities, sacred sites, salt pilgrimage routes, and families divided. We did not cross the 75 miles of
border within our reservation lands. The border crossed us. And the border comes at a price."

  Chairman Norris went on to explain that the Department of Homeland Security and the Border Patrol, in their hurry
to construct the border wall, had violated the trust of the Tohono O'odham Nation and had committed crimes against
O'odham culture and the natural environment.  

  In one particular instance, Norris described how burial grounds were destroyed by Boeing and others during their
work on the Border Wall construction:

 
 "When Environmental Assessments were conducted on ancestral O’odham lands between Naco and Douglas,   
archaeological sites were identified within the border construction zone. During an October 2007 field visit to the
Christiansen Ranch site, Site AZ FF:9:10, fragments of human remains were observed in the tire tracks of the heavy
construction equipment. Barriers and the border road now cross the site.

Imagine a bulldozer parking in your family graveyard, turning up bones. This is our reality."

  
The bulldozing up of O'odham ancestors during the building of the Border Wall is something that has happened
more than once.  In the Spring of 2007, the
bones of many O'odham ancestors were unearthed at a Border Wall
construction site, boxed, and put into storage.  After numerous meetings, protests and an international information
campaign,
the remains of the ancestors were finally returned and given a traditional reburial.

  None of this should be legal, and it would not be under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation
Act.  However, the
Department of Homeland security has usurped authority in the border zone and rendered it self
exempt from a large number of environmental and cultural protection laws.

This is a very serious situation.  The public must not allow the Department of Homeland Security to continue to
assert totalitarian control over the border zone.

Resistance, in its many forms, must be continued and expanded.

The time to stop the Department of Homeland Security in its tracks is now.

If you do nothing else, at least inform yourself and spread the word about this situation to others so that they may
open their eyes to our colonized reality!