Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Death Walks on Tohono O'odham Nation


By Brenda Norrell

In southern Arizona, humanitarians putting out water for migrants are being charged with a crime, in the latest attempt by the US government to halt humanitarian aid to migrants dying in the Sonoran Desert. Thirteen humanitarians from No More Deaths, Samaritans and Humane Borders were arraigned in federal court in Tucson in September on charges of littering. Their crime was placing water on migrant trails where people are dying.
Today, broadcast on Censored News Blog Radio, Mike Wilson, Tohono O'odham, describes his water stations on the Tohono O'odham Nation and how the Tohono O'odham Nation has fought his efforts. While his water containers have been slashed and confiscated, Wilson continues to put out water for migrants. Wilson also describes searching for the bodies of migrants, including that of a young pregnant woman, where temperatures range from 105 to 117 in summer months. He also describes how young migrant children are imprisoned in a holding cell, known as the "dog cage," on Tohono O'odham Nation land.
Wilson continues to be under attack by the Tohono O'odham Nation. "Tribal authorities have authorized the removal of my water stations from Baboquivari and Schuck Toac Districts."
Wilson said the Tohono O'odham Nation is seeking to maximize a profit on the backs of destitute migrants, many who are Indigenous Peoples from Southern Mexico and Guatemala.
"The Nation is anxious to take blood money from the Department of Homeland Security. Shamefully, we who were once oppressed are now the willing oppressors."
As volunteers are being charged, Wilson said he is now vulnerable to arrest, along with another Tohono O'odham, David Garcia, who assists him.
"The reality is that as tribal members of the Tohono O'odham Nation, David Garcia and I are now vulnerable to arrest and conviction for doing the same thing on Tohono O'odham tribal lands. The legal precedent has now been irreversibly set for federal prosecution of humanitarian volunteers, like us, for knowing placing gallons of water for migrants in distress on any federal properties, inclusive of Native American reservations.
"The truth is, despite our mythical notions of 'sovereignty,' reservations are first, foremost and manifestly, Federal Properties managed by the Department of Interior and its agent, the Bureau of Indian Affairs," Wilson said.
Listen to Wilson on "Death Walks on the Tohono O'odham Nation." This talk was at the Indigenous Border Summit of Americas 2007. Currently conditions are intense for humanitarians putting out water, as migrants continue to die.
Currently, the theater production in Los Angeles, "Visitor's Guide to Arivaca," includes a portrayal of the real life efforts of Wilson. The theater production was produced by Borderlands in Tucson. (Currently at Company of Angels at the Alexandria Hotel, 501 S. Spring St., Los Angeles, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 7 p.m. Sundays. Ends Oct. 4.)
Photos at: http://www.bsnorrell.blogspot.
Photos at summit: Water containers placed on Tohono O'odham Nation slashed. Photo 2: Mike Wilson points out where migrants are dying on the Tohono O'odham Nation. (Click photo to enlarge.) Photos by Brenda Norrell
Recorded at the Indigenous Border Summit of the Americas by http://www.earthcycles.net/ Guitar music by Ruben Romaro. Border Patrol yell recorded in Lordsburg, N.M.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Appears to me as though Mike Wilson is following his beliefs and convictions of helping the Oppressed. Stay strong Mike!
De Oppresso Liber

Your Brother, Bob Dog