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Friday, September 24, 2004

Tohono O' odham testify before Civil Rights Commision about Border Patrol harassment

This article appeared in today's web edition of "Indian Country Today." It details some of the harassment that's endured by the Tohono O" odham, at the hands of the Border Patrol.

Following the article are some photographs taken on the Tohono O' odham reservation. The first is a watch tower that the Border Patrol has placed on the reservation. The second is a photo that Tohono O' odham can relate to;being followed by the border patrol on their own lands. The last photo is of a "detention camp" where they hold those who cross the border.

Civil Rights Commission hears indigenous peoples at border

Posted: September 24, 2004 - 1:04pm EST
by: Brenda Norrell / Southwest Staff Reporter / Indian Country Today
NOGALES, Ariz. - The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights heard reports of the abuse of indigenous peoples by U.S. Border Patrol agents, now under Homeland Security, and the climate of fear in America that has increased militarization, intimidation and racial profiling at the international border.

"Personally my life is in danger for making this statement," Ofelia Rivas, Tohono O’odham, told the U.S. Civil Rights Commission’s Arizona State Advisory Committee during two days of hearings in Nogales.

Because there is a swarm of tribal and federal agents around O’odham, Rivas said O’odham fear for their lives when coming forward with the truth. "Many of the tribal members will not report abuse because of the fear of reprisal."

Describing a climate of oppression on Tohono O’odham lands in Arizona and Sonora, Mexico, Rivas said O’odham are denied unrestricted free passage across the international border, which dissects O’odham lands.

O’odham are halted while attending annual ceremonies in Mexico and the United States, during pilgrimages to sacred sites for offerings and when collecting ceremonial items. Forced to carry documents and subjected to frequent stops, searches and the threat of deportation, she said O’odham cannot freely collect medicinal plants or conduct personal business.
Rivas said O’odham civil rights and religious rights are violated by U.S. Border Patrol agents on traditional routes crossing this border. Full article


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