Monday, April 3, 2017

Puerto Penasco: Why the Border is an Issue

As we learned from class, Puerto Penasco was once Tohono O'odham land. However, with Native American relocation and the establishment of the Mexican border, the Tohono O'odham lost a significant portion of Mexico. Along with loss of land, tribe members lost connections with family and friends. This makes it much harder for the entire tribe to engage in ceremonies and see relatives. Although the U.S. government allows Tohono O'odham people into Mexico and back, they are still harassed by border control. While in Puerto Penasco, the number of border patrol were almost nonexistent. However, when the group crossed back into the U.S., Arizona was swarming with them. This is an issue for Native Americans who fear they can't get back home if they cross the border. The solution to this issues is a challenge but not impossible.

An interesting phenomenon with border patrol is their emphasis on keeping people out of the U.S. while remaining apathetic to people who go into Mexico. This means that while Tohono O'odham people may have little trouble seeing relatives in Mexico, they may be harassed when they try to come home. According to Angelo Joaquin, many people refuse to see relatives in Mexico because they don't want the border patrol to interrogate them. Consequently, many tribal members can't perform ceremonies or visit relatives due to a fear of the border patrol. For tribe members living in Mexico, visiting relatives is much more difficult. That means that when tribal ceremonies occur for the entire tribe, they must occur in Mexico. This presents an issue to the people, however, because the treaties established between the Tohono O'odham and Mexico are not as binding as the U.S. Therefore, the Mexican government can take away Tohono O'odham land relatively easily, leading the people to have no place to perform ceremonies.

In the future, the Mexican government must transform treaties into acts so Tohono O'odham people don't face the threat of land confiscation and lose a place to perform ceremonies. Furthermore, border patrol should receive more training on the Tohono O'odham people so more tribal members can successfully cross the border without fear and harassment. If these measures are in place, the border will no longer remain a spiritual and emotional divide between Tohono O'odham people.

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