In 1853, the U.S. Government bought a 29,670 square mile chunk of dirt in a deal that, as history buffs will tell you, ended up being called the Gadsden Purchase. It was a dick move: purchasing the land meant bisecting the territory of the area's indigenous Tohono O'odham Nation. This left half of the Tohono O'odham in Mexico and the other half in the United States. Today, the Tohono O'odham are a federally recognized tribe, with somewhere around 34,000 members. This number includes around 2,000 Tohono O'odham who live in Mexico. It's not uncommon for the tribe to cooperate with Homeland Security where protecting the border is concerned. But guess what? A tribe that had their lands split up by the Federal government once isn't crazy about having it done again.
According to Splinter, the Tohono O'odham Nation controls the second largest land base in the United States. This includes a full 75 miles of the U.S./Mexico border. Given that members of their tribe live on both sides of the border, they're less than chuffed with the notion of allowing the National Guard onto their lands to surveil their territory or to allow a border wall to be built on their property. The reasons for their objections are sound: Having a wall thrown up in the middle of their land would keep members of their tribe from easily traveling to participate in culturally important events on their own frigging land.
Tohono O'odham chairman Edward D. Manuel recently went on a local radio station to tell members of the tribe that no National Guard or military personnel were welcomed on the land, according to a spokesperson for Manuel's office. The tribe also released a statement announcing the Border Patrol has agreed to not send military personnel to its land. (Border Patrol officials in the Tucson Sector, which covers the area where the tribe lives, did not respond to a request for comment.)
It'll be interesting to see, should the Trump administration ever get its shit together and sort out the funds for a border wall, how things shake out with the Tohono O'odham. I'd love to think that they'd be successful in keeping the Feds off of their soil. But the pessimist in me feels that their desire to freely traverse their own lands could fall by the wayside in favour of the ineffectual security plans of the current Administration.
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