This past weekend, WRL joined hundreds at the Mexican-American border for this year's School of the America's Watch (SOAW) Border Encuentro 2018, a convergence at the borderlands of what is now called Arizona and Mexico. The weekend was a moment to grieve, heal, and organize against border militarism, connecting the crises of human migration across the world to the evils of U.S. imperialism.
And today, on the colonizer holiday of "Thanksgiving," we wanted to lift up the work of the Tohono O’odham Peoples, indigenous to the Sonoran desert where we converged this past weekend. The Nation of the Desert People is quite literally cut in half by the U.S/Mexico border, with 10,000 living in the federally recognized reservation stateside, and 2,000 more fighting against a corrupt Mexican government that fails to recognize them and authorized the strip mining of 66 hectares (or 66 American football fields) of sacred land for the extraction of salt and other minerals.
"Since Trump’s election, O’odham on both sides of the border are leading an increasingly outspoken struggle to defend their land and way of life against threats of its destruction—both from a fortified wall that would further divide them, and from the environmental consequences that appear to be deepening during the presidencies of Trump and his Mexican counterpart, Enrique Peña Nieto.
One of the O’odham’s most emblematic struggles is for the continuation of their transnational salt pilgrimage. For the O’odham salt is sacred, and for their ancestors, the salt pilgrimage was both an initiation ceremony for young men and a way to gather the vital mineral used for healing, food preservation, and trade with other peoples. Today, the pilgrimage bisects biometric checkpoints and narco-trafficking routes that have dismembered traditional O’odham territory, culminating in the salt flats where companies are profiting from their sacred minerals."
Wherever you might be, take a moment to remember and honor the generations of peoples that have lived, thrived, and died on the land beneath you. Recognize and be accountable to both the land and the people to which it originally belonged before colonization, and to which it's been home to since. Remember that our movements are only made stronger by the true inclusion of Native and Indigenous peoples demands. Our processes of decolonization cannot simply stop at theory.
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