There’s at least 75 miles of the U.S.‐Mexico border where National Guard troops can’t go, no matter what President Donald Trump says.
The Tohono O’odham Nation says its people have inhabited what is now southern and central Arizona and northern Mexico since “time immemorial—in other words, way before any borders were put in place.
But a U.S.-Mexico land deal in the 1800s “dissected” the nation’s indigenous lands in half. The tribe has been fighting border walls ever since so that their people can travel freely.
Now the Tohono O’odham people are worried about Trump’s plan to send “anywhere from 2,000 to 4,000" members of the National Guard to the border.
Tohono O’odham chairman Edward D. Manuel recently went on a local radio station to tell members of the tribe that no National Guard or military personnel were welcomed on the land, according to a spokesperson for Manuel’s office. The tribe also released a statement announcing the Border Patrol has agreed to not send military personnel to its land. (Border Patrol officials in the Tucson Sector, which covers the area where the tribe lives, did not respond to a request for comment.)
The Tohono O’odham Nation has opposed a border wall for years because its members cross the border daily for basic necessities and to participate in cultural and religious events.
In 1853 the United States paid Mexico $10 million for a 29,670 square mile portion of land in what is now called The Gadsden Purchase. The United States claimed the land was for a railroad and to “resolve some conflicts that lingered after the Mexican-American War.” But the purchase split the Tohono O’odham’s native lands in half, leaving some of its members in Mexico and others in the United States.
The Tohono O’odham Nation now controls the second largest Native American land base in the United States, including 75 miles of the US‐Mexico border. The federally recognized tribe has about 34,000 members, including 2,000 who live in Mexico, according to the nation’s website.
The Tohono O’odham’s nation says they want to protect their homeland and that they already cooperate with the Border Patrol. But they say walls and military personnel are not a sensible solution to anything.
“A wall built along the border we believe is not the answer to securing America,” Tohono O’odham Nation vice chairman Verlon Jose said in a recent video released by the tribe. “Walls throughout the world have proven to not be 100% effective.”