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Tohono O'odham Women on the Border
Sunday, 21 December 2008 10:11

by Brenda Norrell

altTohono O'odham women describe the militarization of the US/Mexico border on Censored Blog Radio today. The US/Mexico border wall is now a barrier on the annual O'odham ceremonial route. The contractor Boeing has dug up the graves of O'odham ancestors on Tohono O'odham Nation land. US Border Patrol agents harass and threaten O'odham, holding O'odham women and elderly at gunpoint on a regular basis and routinely searching O'odham without cause.

Ofelia Rivas, founder of the O'odham Voice Against the Wall, and Angie Ramon, whose 18-year-old son Bennett Patricio, Jr., was run over and killed by the US Border Patrol, describe the sorrow caused by this US military invasion of O'odham land.

Angie Ramon and her family members believe that Bennett walked upon an illegal drug transfer between US Border Patrol agents and was intentionally killed as he walked home in the desert in the predawn hours. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals did not rule in the family's favor. The family continues to seek justice for the death of Bennett, now seeking an attorney to file murder charges against the Border Patrol agent.

The US militarization and border wall, with out of control border agents, result in death and intrusion for O'odham, who have lived in this region where the desert meets the sea since time immemorial.

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"I don't know how to live my life without visiting my family members," said Ofelia Rivas, of her family members in Mexico. "I'm going to be stuck in the United States now since I don't have a passport."

Rivas said the border wall is a barrier on the annual O'odham ceremonial route. Without the ceremonies, there will be catastrophes in the universe.

"Our ceremonies, our Him'dag, it is our way of life."

"We have not migrated anywhere," Rivas said, adding that O'odham Creation stories tell how the O'odham were created here and have not migrated.

In May of 2007 the border wall contractor Boeing dug up the O'odham ancestors, who were later reburied.

During the interview, as the border wall is being constructed, Rivas says, "It is our Mother Earth and they are raping her and they are sticking these metal objects into her. It really impacts our spiritual being as O'odham people.

"Our tribal government doesn't seem to understand that this is impacting our people.

"Who is going to stand up against this government to take this wall down? This is our land, our O'odham land.

Listen at Blog Radio. Original interview recorded by Amanda Shauger, with Brenda Norrell:


Photos: Angie Ramon at the place of her son's death. Photo 2: Ofelia Rivas looks at the border wall under construction during this radio interview, with radio producer Amanda Shauger and Angie Ramon. Photos Brenda

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