security policies, land encroachment in Mexico create tribal hardships
in the negotiations of the Gadsden Purchase were the people who
had lived here longest - the Tohono O'odham.
border created by the 1854 treaty divided the Indian nation, and
efforts to secure that border separate its members, even its families.
introduced by Arizona Congressmen Ed Pastor in 2001 and Raúl
Grijalva in 2003 would have granted citizenship to thousands of
Tohono O'odham living on both sides of the border. The bill would
make tribal membership papers the equivalent of certificates of
citizenship or state-issued birth certificates.
bill made it to a hearing.
we're doing at this point is building a stronger case before we
go back and reintroduce the bill," said Vivian Juan-Saunders,
chairwoman of the Tohono O'odham Nation.
to be among the oldest inhabitants of Southern Arizona, about 11,000
Tohono O'odham live on 4,453 square miles southwest of Tucson. Sells
is the capital of the reservation. The community extends 90 miles
south of the U.S. border. But the Mexican government does not recognize
a separate O'odham community or reservation inside its boundaries.
of the O'odham lands in Mexico is a major concern right now,"
Juan-Saunders said. "Even at the time of the Gadsden Purchase,
several of our people moved north because of the encroachment -
because of the lack of protection of their land in Mexico."
the Gadsden Purchase, all the nation's lands would have been in
Mexico and vulnerable.
1854 report by U.S. border commissioner and surveyor William H.
Emory indicated a delegation of O'odham visited the survey team
and inquired how the Gadsden Purchase would impact their community's
land rights. Emory assured the delegation and put it in writing
that the O'odham would have the same land rights afforded to them
1887, the Anglo farmers were diverting water off the Gila River
for their own crop irrigation. That soon left the O'odham crops
1895, the U.S. government was rationing water to the O'odham, and
the cultivators of 15,000 acres in 1859 were able to farm only 3,800
free to cross the border on their own land, the O'odham now must
cross at Lukeville or Nogales.
mandated that our people go through the official ports of entry,"
Juan Saunders said. The homeland security issues today "put
us in the unique situation that now we must not only be concerned
about the politics of the Tohono O'odham Nation, but also the U.S.
a result of the border policy and the O'odham's lack of official
birth records, O'odham who were born on the U.S. side but now reside
in Mexico or born in Mexico to American parents cannot always prove
their U.S. citizenship. Some O'odham living in Mexico can't visit
family or community ceremonies on the U.S. side.
said Grijalva's office is continuing to gather more support for
a renewed attempt to gain O'odham citizenship. The O'odham also
will hire a lobbying group to look after their interests in Washington,
D.C., she said.
we're asking for is a seat at the table with the new immigration
laws that are being proposed," Juan-Saunders said. "The
influx of illegal activity coming across the border is a result
of our not being involved in those discussions."