Thursday, November 8, 2007

Mohawks and Border Delegation inflamed over arrests of Indigenous Peoples

By Brenda Norrell

THE GATE, TOHONO O'ODHAM Nation (Arizona) --Indigenous delegates to the border on Tohono O'odham Nation land were outraged by the federal agents, hovering customs helicopter, profiteering contractors, federal spy tower, federal "cage" detention center and watching the arrest of a group of Indigenous Peoples, mostly women and children, by the US Border Patrol on an Indian Nation.
"We saw it all firsthand in America," said Bill Means, cofounder of the International Indian Treaty Council on Nov. 8, in an Indigenous delegation to the border here, south of Sells, to document the human rights abuses for a report to the United Nations.
"Now we are going to take this wall down," Means said, after viewing the construction of a border vehicle barrier by contractors and National Guard on Tohono O'odham land.
Speaking a few hours later to the Indigenous Peoples Border Summit of the Americas II in San Xavier, Means called for solidarity of Indigenous Peoples throughout the world to halt the arrests of Indigenous Peoples who are walking north in search of a better life, and to bring down the US/Mexico border wall.
"One inch of intrusion into our land is not acceptable," Mohawk Mark Maracle told the Border Summit. "I became very angry when I saw those guys rounding up the people.
"It is a violation of our Great Law to witness what we did today and do nothing about it."
The delegation included Mohawks, Oneida, Navajo, Acoma Pueblo, Hopi and O'odham.
At the scene of the arrests of a group of Indigenous Peoples, Mohawks stood before US Border Patrol agents and held their fists in solidarity, as the Border Patrol packed nearly a dozen Indigenous Peoples into one vehicle.
The delegation also viewed the federal spy tower next to the detention center known as "the cage" on the Tohono O'odham Nation. The first stop, however, was the abomination of the new vehicle barrier wall being constructed on O'odham land.
Kahentinetha Horn of the Mohawk Women Title Holders said she saw the callousness of the Tohono O'odham district official standing before them and speaking in favor of the border barrier.
"This is completely illegal," Kahentinetha said, adding that it violates human rights legislation. She was outraged at the arrests of the group, who appeared to be Mayans from Oaxaca, Chiapas or Guatemala.
"We stood in front of the Border Patrol, we started yelling at them," she said. She described how the Mohawks stood with fists held high in solidarity with the Indigenous Peoples being arrested.
"We were passing some of our strength on to them to fight."
The delegation planned to intervene in the arrests, but the Border Patrol crowded the group into a vehicle and left quickly.
"I came away feeling very frustrated and very discouraged," Kahentinetha said.
Mohawk Warrior Rarahkwisere, among those heartbroken to witness the arrest of Indigenous brothers and sisters, said these Indigenous Peoples arrested were not drug runners or criminals, these were women and children walking in search of a better life.
Jay Johnson Castro of Del Rio Texas, leading protests against the imprisonment of migrant children at Hutto prison in Texas and the border wall in Texas, was in the delegation.
"I hear 'sovereign nation,' but I didn't see a sovereign nation."
Castro said the buildings near the border on the Tohono O'odham Nation are labeled with signs, "Homeland Security and Tohono O'odham Nation, like they are in partnership."
Maracle said the same things that the US government is now accusing migrants of doing, is what the invaders did when they arrived on Turtle Island: rape, robbery and murder.
"If you don't stop and grab a hold of your destiny, there is not going to be one for your children."
Maracle said all the nations need to come together and stop what is happening here. "I know from past experience with the Mohawk Warrior Society where our power lies, it is with the people. The power is in the people, don't ever forget that."
Chris George, Oneida from Canada, said, "When the Border Patrol came up, they thought we were the enemy," when they asked who authorized this summit delegation to be at the border.
"No one authorizes us to do anything. It was the Creator who took us there.
"They were packing, we were packing, too, with a good mind and a good heart."
"All of the Indigenous Peoples need to come together. Don't let the United States government tell you who you are. We know who we are. We are Haudenosaunee, People of the Longhouse."
Lenny Foster, Dine' (Navajo) and advocate for Native ceremonial rights for prison inmates, said what he witnessed at the border was "brutal, vicious and evil."
Foster said Dine' know that human beings all have five fingers, but what he witnessed in the district official and agents was no internal knowledge of this.
"They were robots."
Referring to the Tohono O'odham district official who led the tour, Foster said she was defending the policies of genocide.
Foster asked who is setting these policies in the United States. "Who is running the government? It is the white man, it surely isn't the people of color."
Describing how the Indigenous Peoples were arrested and rushed into a small vehicle, Foster said, "It reminded me of Gallup, N.M., how they round up our people and stack them up like stacks of wood."
Foster was at this same place, a dirt road stretch leading to Mexico, years ago when the American Indian Movement protested the violation of human rights here. Foster pointed out that during the day, he viewed police from the BIA, Tohono O'odham Nation, along with US Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs agents. The National Guard were also there, working with the contractor constructing the vehicle barrier, as white customs' helicopter hovered overhead.
At the same time, on the Mexico side, two men sat under a tree.
An attorney for the O'odham in Mexico was prevented from crossing into the United States on Tohono O'odham land by the US Border Patrol, even though he held a letter from Tohono O'odham Nation Chairman Ned Norris asking him to meet with him today. In the letter, Chairman Norris stated that the attorney could enter the Nation for the meeting by way of The Gate here.
However, the Border Patrol at the scene refused to allow the attorney to enter, even with a letter from the chairman. Over-ruling Chairman Norris on O'odham land, the US Border Patrol agent said the attorney must have a US visa to enter, and not just a letter from Chairman Norris. The attorney waited there, with a Tarahumara accompanying him, who held a US visa.
Foster pointed out that the Mexican federales or police, who arrived on the other side, could do anything with the two people left there. "They could even be torturing them now."
At the border wall construction, Bill Means said one of the workers told them, "The Israelis are helping us put up the fence." He was referring to the fact that the contractor Boeing, hired the Israeli defense contractor Elbit Systems, who participated in the construction of the Apartheid Wall in Palestine.
Describing what is happening in the United States, Means said the "gated communities" of the have now expanded into a "gated country." It is a country where the government welcomes the rich.
The Indigenous summit delegation witnessed first hand how Indigenous Peoples are treated.
Means quoted Black Hawk of the Sac and Fox Nation: "Why is it you Americans always take with a gun what you could have with love.
"We experienced America today."

No comments: