The Tohona O’odham native American tribe skirts the border of southwest Arizona and Mexico. The New York Times covering a drug running story failed to tell the real story of the Tohono O’odham human rights issues and the complicity between elected Tohono O’doham officials, tribal police and US Border Patrol agents. News reporter Erik Echholm offered a superficial view of the situation, focusing on cross-border drug trafficking, rather than revealing the real story of on-going human rights abuses.
The US government has spy towers on the Tohono O’odham Nation and continues to arrest Indigenous Peoples. The Tohono O’odham Nation made it a crime for O’odham to offer water or aid to migrants, including Indigenous Peoples, even if they are dying.
Since 9/11, a climate of fear has led the US Border Patrol and tribal police to ignore laws and basic human rights. O’odham are beaten and killed by the US Border Patrol.
Bennett Patricio, Jr., 18, Tohono O’odham, was walking home when he was run over and killed by a US Border Patrol agent. His family believes that he walked upon Border Patrol agents involved in a drug transfer in the predawn hours in the desert and was murdered. Patricio’s family has taken the case all the way to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
In federal court, in Bennett Patricio, Jr.’s case, as in the majority of cases filed against US Border Agents who have murdered people of color, injustice prevailed. The Border Agent was not held responsible. (The case files are in Arizona federal courts.)
The Tohono O’odham government is dependent on the US government for funding dollars and does not support the Tohono O’odham people who are abused by the US Border Patrol.
“The US Border Patrol is an occupying army,” says Mike Wilson, Tohono O’odham, who puts out water for migrants at water stations. Wilson points out that non-O’odham have failed to hold the Tohono O’odham Nation, the elected politicians, responsible for crimes against humanity.
The New York Times article fails to describe the abuse by the US Border Patrol when O’odham living along the border cross for family and ceremonial reasons.
New York Times article:
Source: Brenda Norrell Blog Spot: 1/25/10
Author: Brenda Norrell
Faculty Evaluator: Peter Phillips
Sonoma State University