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From Standing Rock to the Border Wall

Greetings WAC Community,

Do not move an ancient boundary stone. – Proverbs 23:10

The summer issue of the National Museum of the American Indian magazine includes an article entitled Tohono O’odham and the Border Wall by Anya Montiel.  The Tohono O’odham Nation lives on a reservation with a border 62 miles along the international border of Mexico.  The ancestral lands stretch from Gila River in Arizona southward to the Sea of Cortez in Mexico.  When the U.S. purchased land from Mexico in 1853, the agreement did not take into account existing indigenous territories and split this nation.  Currently 34,000 enrolled members live in the U.S. and another in 2,000 in the state of Sonora in Mexico.  The tribe cooperates with U.S. Immigration officials to patrol illegal crossing of the border, even providing funds.  In February the Tohono O’odham passed a resolution opposing the border wall that President Trump proposes.  The tribe’s concerns are for ecological and social damages including:

  1. Farmers and ranchers living near the border rely on water sources located on the Sonora side.

  2. Many of the tribe are Catholic and make an annual spiritual pilgrimage to Magdalena in Sonora to pray to their patron saint, St. Francis.

  3. People regularly visit their relatives for festivals and celebrations on the other side of the border.

  4. Wildlife migration routes cross the border.

A video, There’s No O’odham Word for Wall, can be found at the tribe’s website, or on YouTube.

The pipeline has been completed under the lake that the Standing Rock Nation opposed. The tribe and their supporters seek to protect the water from contamination.  An earlier decision by President Obama to stop it until further research was completed was reversed by the current administration.  The pipeline developers hired security officers and used law enforcement officials from states, including Wyoming, to harass the peaceful demonstrators.  Several clergy from Wyoming went to the site last winter to show support.  The Wind River Native Advocacy Center delivered supplies and had a camp site there for those from the Wind River Reservation. The issue is still pending a court challenge.

A reporter from Voice of America, Cecily Hilleary, recently contacted us to find out whether the shootings two summers ago in Riverton were prosecuted as a hate crime as requested by the Northern Arapaho Business Council.  She sent me this link to the article she wrote that reveals that crimes against Native Americans in the United States are seldom prosecuted as hate crimes and get very little public attention.

The Wyoming Association of Churches seeks to be an ally with the tribal nations.  Let’s stay informed and stand with them as opportunities arise.  Too often their pleas for help are ignored.

The Crow Pipe Ceremony is this coming week near Cody.  Go to our website at and click on Events for more information.

If you missed getting our recent newsletter in the mail, you may click here for a copy.

Fear not. Be bold. Do justice.



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