Oct. 12, 2020
Border Patrol and Arizona State Police Violently Attacked Peaceful, Non-Violent Indigenous Land Protection Ceremony
With Rubber Bullets and Tear Gas On Indigenous Peoples’ Day
Photos by Rafael Samanez attached, video available at https://vimeo.com/467449845
O’odham sacred land and water protectors held ceremony this morning at a border patrol checkpoint on unceded O’odham homelands to pray for sacred sites and graves demolished by the racist border wall. Border Patrol and Arizona State Troopers and Department of Public Safety attacked them with tear gas and rubber bullets, hitting at least one O’odham in prayer in the chest with rubber bullets and arresting at least eight Native Americans on Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
Indigenous Peoples’ Day 2020; Highway 85, Hia Ced O’odham lands (Arizona) –
This morning at about 7am, roughly thirty O’odham sacred land and water protectors and allies held a peaceful action at a border patrol checkpoint on unceded O’odham lands to pray for sacred sites and burial grounds destroyed by the border wall & border militarization. The prayer ceremony was attended by O’odham families from all O’odham nations (Hia Ced O’odham, Tohono O’odham, and Akimel O’odham) including children. Covid-19 precautions were taken. This prayer ceremony marked Indigenous Peoples’ Day as O’odham continue to face violence from border militarization, including extensive abuses from border patrol against O’odham communities. During ceremony O’odham sang traditional songs, prayed, and attempted to discuss the Freedom Of Religion Act (1978), that decriminalized Native American religions and opened the path towards the protection of sacred sites, with members of Border Patrol and Arizona State Troopers and Department of Public Safety present to educate them on the context of Indigenous religious protections.
Border Patrol, State Troopers, and Arizona Department of Public Safety responded with violence to shut down the Indigenous prayer ceremony. Border Patrol, State Troopers, and Arizona Department of Public Safety ordered children and people with vulnerable health who were observing the ceremony from inside their vehicles out of their vehicles and then tear gassed them. Border Patrol, State Troopers, and Arizona Department of Public Safety then grabbed children who had been in vehicles and abducted them from their parents – stealing children from Indigenous parents for practicing their religion is a clear violation of the Freedom of Religion Act and the Indian Child Welfare Act.
After tear-gassing protectors and snatching children from their parents, Border Patrol, State Troopers, and AZ Department of Public Safety advanced on the crowd shooting O’odham peoples in prayer with rubber bullets, hitting an O’odham man in the chest. We are seeking information on his condition and the condition of others who were shot at and will provide updates as we receive them. Border Patrol, State Troopers, and Arizona Department of Public Safety then arrested at least eight land protectors and pursued others, including media observers and journalists.
“It’s obscene and offensive to us that local and state governments move to celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day while the federal government blows up our sacred sites, steals our kids, militarily occupies our communities, and shoots at Native Americans praying to protect our land and ancestors from desecration. They want to appropriate our cultures but they don’t want us to practice our religions or protect our lands,” said one O’odham Auntie present at today’s ceremony.
We demand the following:
Immediate release of all who were arrested today
Immediate release of all minors abducted by the state today
Information about and reparations for all who were injured today
End the checkpoints and remove all Customs and Border Patrol agencies from O’odham lands.
Immediate and indefinite discontinuation of border wall construction at Quitobaquito Springs and throughout O’odham territories.
Immediate removal of the white supremacist border wall and restoration of the land.
Immediate demilitarization of O’odham lands.
Remove the Integrated Fixed Towers
End racial profiling and harassment of Indigenous peoples
End incarceration and deportation of O’odham people from O’odham homelands by border patrol
End sexual and gender violence by border patrol
End white supremacist attacks, incarceration, and deportation of refugees and migrants on Indigenous lands
Supporting Indigenous autonomy against colonial borders
O’odham Anti Border Collective is a grassroots collective of Akimel O’odham, Tohono O’odham, and Hia Ced O’odham tribal members and descendants committed to the unification of all O’odham peoples, regeneration of O’odham himdag (traditions, spirituality, language, and culture), and the protection of O’odham jewed (homelands) through the dismantling of colonial borders.
Defend O’odham Jewed* is an O’odham u’uwi (women) led grassroots movement and spiritual direct action campaign to protect the sacred O’odham homelands from desecration and violence.
*jewed means homelands in the O’odham language
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Instagram: @OodhamAntiBorder, @DefendOodhamJewed