Mohawks join Tohono O'odham in solidarity at border summit
Mohawks join Tohono O'odham in solidarity at border summit
By Brenda Norrell
SAN XAVIER DISTRICT, TOHONO O'ODHAM NATION, Ariz. -- Indigenous at the
Border Summit of the Americas opposed a border fence that will separate
Indian communities in their ancestral territories and contribute to the Bush
administration's plan for corporate profiteering.
Without compromise, Indigenous called for a halt to the militarization,
oppression and psychological terrorism created by the military industrial
complex along the US/Mexico border.
Mohawks from the northern border united with Tohono O'odham from the
southern border and demanded a halt to the militarization of their lands by
the US Border Patrol, National Guard and federal agents. Mohawk Mark
Maracle, representing the Women Title Holders, said Mohawks from the north
are ready to support the Tohono O'odham in the south "by any means
"We are directed under our law to go to the aid of others and not just sit
back and watch the devastation," Maracle said, adding that the proposed
border fence would upset the natural order. "If this fence goes up, this
nation will see natural disasters like it has not seen before. It will
disrupt nature and the natural order."
The Border Summit of the Americas opposed the border fence and the US
Senate's passage of the multi-billion dollar Secure Fence Act of 2006,
during the Border Summit Aug. 29 - Oct. 1.
Calling it another "Berlin Wall," International Indian Treaty Council member
Bill Means said Indian people would not allow the United States to violate
federal laws protecting American Indians, sacred sites and the environment.
Those include the Native American Grave Protection and Repatriation Act and
American Indian Religious Freedom Act.
If the US attempts to continue with its policy of ignoring federal law to
build the fence, Means said the government of Mexico will be called on to
demand that the US follow its own laws and issue an environmental impact
statement before building the fence.
Means said Indian people would not sit by and allow the US to carry out the
mandate of the US to disregard laws to violate Indian lands. (Homeland
Security waived environmental and other laws in 2005 to complete the border
fence in Southern California. Kumeyaay said it would allow the US to "plow
though" the burial places of their ancestors.)
During the summit, Angelita Ramon, mother of Bennett Patricio, Jr.,
18-year-old Tohono O'odham, described how her son was ran over and killed by
the Border Patrol. Ramon described the harassment followed when they began
to investigate the details of his death and whether it was an accident. The
family has filed suit against the Border Patrol and United States. Ramon
said the case was transferred to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San
Francisco, since justice was impossible in the high court in Tucson,
Mike Wilson, Tohono O'odham who puts out water for migrants on tribal lands,
challenged the Tohono O'odham Nation to become morally responsible and not
continue to allow migrants to die in the desert from dehydration. On tribal
land, Baboquivari District has one of the highest rates of deaths for
"No one should be allowed to die for want of a drink of water," Wilson said,
pointing out that his individual effort comes after humanitarian groups were
halted by the tribe from coming on tribal land to render aid.
Indigenous at the summit called for a halt to corporate welfare, including
contracts to Boeing to build the border fence and contracts to Halliburton's
Kellogg, Brown and Root to build migrant prisons.
During the testimony, indigenous said the militarization and occupation of
Indigenous lands are in direct violation of Indigenous Peoples' rights to
economic, political, social and cultural control of their lands.
Urging a halt to trade policies, which are leading to mass starvation and
unemployment in the Americas, the summit called for reforms of the North
American Free Trade Agreement and other trade agreements.
During the summit, Tohono O'odham described how Border Patrol intrude into
the homes of elderly O'odham without permission, hold people at gunpoint and
ask for papers and occupy and throw garbage in sacred sites, including
Baboquivari Peaks, the sacred place of the Creator I'itoi.
Floyd Westerman Red Crow sang the all-time favorite, "Custer Died for Your
Sins," and Keith Secola performed another crowd favorite, "Indian Kars,"
during their outdoor concert on tribal land.
Westerman showed a film work in progress of the genocide of American
Indians. The first in the series is focused on the genocide by missions and
gold miners in the state of California. It also describes the militia who
collected bounties paid the state and federal governments for Indian scalps
and Indian heads. It further documents how small pox blankets were given to
Indians in California during the ongoing era of genocide.
The summit called for a halt to subsidized and genetically modified seeds,
including corn and grain that have decimated Indigenous economies.
Further, local, state and federal governments were told to recognize the
international rights of Indigenous Peoples as upheld by the United Nations,
treaty rights, and the sovereignty of American Indians.
Further governments were told to obtain prior permission before entering
onto or engaging in construction or development on indigenous lands.
Pointing out that the fragile desert ecosystem and all of its creatures will
be impacted, Maracle said, "The environmentalists should be up in arms."
Maracle said he was directed by the Women Title Holders to attend the summit
as a representative, because Native people face the same intrusions and
violations of human rights at the northern border.
The Women Title Holders said in a statement, "The colonial government has
imposed tribal and band council systems which are not supported by our
people. Under international law we have a right to our nationality and
cannot be arbitrarily denied that right."
While supporting the right of passage of Indigenous Peoples at the Southern
Border, the statement of the Women Title Holders said Native people, by
traditional and federal law, have the right of passage at the Northern
"Whereas the Red Card indicates that a person is a Haudenosaunee/Six Nations
Iroquois of Turtle Island. According to the Two Row Wampum Agreement, at all
times we are free to pass and repass by land or inland navigation [or by
air] onto our territories, that we are free to carry on trade and commerce
with each other, that we shall not pay any duty or import whatever, that we
are free to hunt and fish anywhere on our vast territory and that we shall
have free passage over all toll roads and bridges."
The Border Summit opposed anti-Indian legislation in Arizona, including Prop
103 English-only, Prop 200 voter identification and Prop 300 proof of
citizenship for services.
The summit was organized by Tohono O'odham Mike Flores and facilitated by
the International Indian Treaty Council members, including Bill Means, Tony
Gonzales and Jimbo Simmons.
The testimony was live on the radio in the Tucson area, and live on the
Internet, with listeners responding around the world. After processing, the
audio files will be available in the archives of Earth Cycles: