“Donald Trump’s proposed border wall could face a major obstacle in Arizona, where an indigenous tribe has vowed to oppose construction on its land…The Tohono O’odham Nation, a federally recognized tribe with a reservation that spans 75 miles of the US-Mexico border, announced on Thursday that it does not support the wall and criticized the White House for signing an executive order without consulting the tribe.” S. Levin, The Guardian
“The Tohono O’odham’s statement calls for a meeting with the president and comes after a tribal vice-chairman declared the government would build the wall ‘over my dead body’. Earlier in his first week in office, Trump also promised to push forward with the the Dakota Access pipeline, which last year attracted an unprecedented gathering of indigenous groups to back the Standing Rock Sioux tribe in its fight against the oil project.
The Tohono O’odham tribe, which has roughly 28,000 members and controls 2.8m acres of a reservation in south-western Arizona, has long struggled with the militarized international border that was drawn through the middle of its traditional lands.
The O’odham people historically inhabited lands that stretched south to Sonora, Mexico, and just north of Phoenix, Arizona, and there are tribe members who still live in Mexico. The tribe today has the second largest Native American land base in the country, and indigenous people say the US Border Patrol has for decades significantly disrupted tribal communities and their day-to-day life.
The tribe has said that Border Patrol agents in the past have detained and deported Tohono O’odham people who were simply traveling through their own traditional lands, practicing migratory traditions essential to their religion, economy and culture.
Trump would face numerous legal hurdles if he attempted to build a wall on Tohono O’odham land, which functions under law as an autonomous government…if the government moved to start construction, large demonstrations like Standing Rock could emerge.”