National | Politics | World

Tohono O'odham Nation reaffirms strong opposition to border wall

The Tohono O’odham Hemajkam Rights Network takes a stand against abuses by the U.S. Border Patrol. Photo from Facebook

The election of Republican Donald Trump as president hasn't changed anything for the Tohono O’odham Nation.

The tribe remains strongly opposed to a wall along its 75-mile reservation border with Mexico, Vice Chairman Verlon Jose told KJZZ. He's calling on Trump to come to Arizona to see the situation for himself.

"Over my dead body will a wall be built," Jose told KJZZ.

A border wall was one of Trump's early campaign promises and he has vowed to make America's southern neighbor "pay" for it somehow. He has since told 60 Minutes that he would accept a combination of fencing and electronic surveillance, in addition to a physical barrier.

"For certain areas I would, but certain areas, a wall is more appropriate," the incoming president told Lesley Stahl in an interview that aired on Sunday. "I’m very good at this, it’s called construction."

The border was imposed on Tohono O’odham territory without the tribe's consent. Citizens travel back and forth between Arizona and Mexico for ceremonies and to visit relatives and friends so a wall is out of the question for them.

“As a people, as a community, it would be a literal separation from our home. Half of the traditional lands of our people lie in Mexico," Amy Juan, a co-founder of the Tohono O’odham Hemajkam Rights Network, told The Washington Post.

In June, Trump met with a small group of tribal leaders, including those with reservations on and near the border. Although he has announced a Native American Coalition, he has not offered any Indian policy specifics, and he has not said whether he would pursue a wall without tribal consent.

Read More on the Story:
Tohono O'odham Nation Tribal Leaders Say Wall With Mexico Will Not Be Built On Their Land (KJZZ 11/14)
A 75-mile-wide gap in Trump’s wall? A tribe says it won’t let it divide its land. (The Washington Post 11/15)

Related Stories:
Tohono O'odham Nation rejects Donald Trump's call for border wall (11/7)