“The Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument is a designated national monument and a UNESCO biosphere reserve on Arizona’s southern border, about 25 miles west of Tuscon. Home to the organ pipe cactus, the reserve also contains burial sites belonging to the Tohono O’odham Nation, as well as sites revered by other indigenous groups.
“This week, crews commissioned by Customs and Border Protection (CPB) began blasting through the park’s Monument Hill to make way for a section of the border wall, allegedly without consultation from the O’odham Nation.”
Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), who represents the district where the burial site was destroyed, said the tribe received no warning before the clearing began:
“There has been no consultation with the nation. This administration is basically trampling on the tribe’s history — and to put it poignantly, its ancestry.”
CBP officials tried to downplay the move, calling it a “controlled blasting” which they claim is necessary for the construction of 43 miles of wall in the Arizona desert.
The section of land being used by the federal government for the wall Trump repeatedly promised during his 2016 race for president has long been sacred to native tribes and is considered an archaeological treasure, according to the Washington Post, which reported last year that some 22 sites could also be damaged or destroyed in order to make room for the border wall.
O’dham Nation chairman Ned Norris, Jr. says the site is protected by Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act:
“The Nation categorically opposes the barrier construction projects, because they directly harm and threaten both the lands currently reserved for the Nation and its ancestral lands that extend along the international boundary in Arizona.
“Regardless that it isn’t within our reservation boundaries anymore, but it’s clear, we have inhabited this area since time immemoria. They’re our ancestors. They’re our remnants of who we are as a people, throughout this whole area. And it’s our obligation, it’s our duty to do what is necessary to protect that.”
The existing border barrier has already had a significant environmental impact:
“The existing barrier has cut off, isolated, and reduced populations of some of the rarest and most amazing animals in North America, like the jaguar. They’ve led to the creation of miles of roads through pristine wilderness areas. They’ve even exacerbated flooding, becoming dams when rivers have overflowed.”
The Trump administration, however, only seems interested in keeping a campaign promise to its base so the president can claim it as an accomplishment on the campaign trail.
Featured Image Via the BBC