American-Indians Fright U.S.-Mexico Border Wall will Destruct Ancient CultureTop Stories

June 13, 2018 04:18
American-Indians Fright U.S.-Mexico Border Wall will Destruct Ancient Culture

(Image source from: Thomsan Reuters Foundation News)

To the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo Indians, the water of the Rio Grande, a river in North America, that divides the United States and Mexico sanctifies religious rites and purifies their haunts.

Ysleta del Sur Pueblo is a Puebloan Native American tribal entity in the Ysleta section of EI Paso, Texas.

Indian communities living miles away use the river to direct messages to fellow tribes downstream, tribal chief Jose Sierra told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

"They go to the river and talk to the river, and the river sends it down. They put messages in the river that come to us through the water," said Sierra, a barrel-chested man with long, greying hair and thick turquoise bracelets at his wrists.

A proposed border wall as envisioned by U.S. President Donald Trump that will sever access to the river is making tribal leaders fear as it results in spoiling traditions and ruling ancient culture.

The Ysleta and umpteen American Indian tribes, designated by U.S. law as sovereign nations governing themselves, live along 1,900-mile border with Mexico, with some vowing to fight the wall to defend tribal culture.

A member of the Ysleta Traditional Council Rene Lopez, said, if the chief asked tribal members to knock down the wall, "we'll do it. That's how deeply it means to us."

While Trump and his supporters say a security wall is essential to stop smuggling drugs and illegal immigrants from Mexico.

"Back off, Trump. Let us be," said Sierra, whose ancestors settled in Texas in 1682 after being forced out of New Mexico during violent conflicts with Spanish settlers.

Merely experts say the probability of stopping the wall with claims of Indian sovereignty of freedom of religion is unlikely, even though for some its impact could be dramatic.

Legal Rights

Some proponents have argued that Indian tribal rights under the 2007 United States Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples would be profaned.

The Cocopah, the Fort Mojave and the Pasqua Yaqui in Arizona and the Kickapoo who run a casino in Eagle Pass, Texas, are the members of other-border area tribes have also spoken against the wall.

Carrizo/Comecrudo tribe, even which has neither a reservation nor official recognition, says it would be harmed.

About 700 miles of fencing and wall exist, built under former president George W. Bush as a part of the 2006 Secure Fence Act.

But so far no funding has been in place for the entire wall. A measure by Congress two months ago provided $1.6 billion for six months work on the wall, whereas Trump asked for $25 billion.

Thought to build part of the wall in California, the Trump administration has waived two laws concerning American Indians.

One law protects the rights of tribes to human remains, historic items, and sacred burial objects, and the other law protects their religious and cultural practices.

By Sowmya Sangam

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