Border Fence to Divide Three Native American Nations

The construction of the border separation fence approved by Congress will divide the three Native American nations and 23 tribes who live in the borderlands between the United States and Mexico.

Date: 2006.10.06
Author: Rodrigo París
News Service: Rumbo

Three Native American nations and 23 tribes live in the borderlands between the United States and Mexico. The construction of the border separation fence approved by Congress will divide in two the ancient history of these peoples.

“The land is the place God put us from time immemorial. I can’t imagine that now it will be difficult to visit my family,” because of the construction of the fence, said Louis Gussac, chief of the Koumeyaay nation located on both sides of the California border.

These sentences are repeated time and time again on the reservations’ international limits.

The tribes’ situation has been difficult since 2001 as a result of an increase in the Border Patrol, the presence of National Guard troops in the last four months and narco-traffic activities in some areas along the border.

O”odham, Cocopah and Kickapoo are the three Native American nations that will see their culture and land divided by a fence that is at least five feet tall and, according to Congress, is expected to be completed in May 2008.

“Although the project is meant to stop the undocumented, it affects our life,” said Gussac.

Texas Has its own History Too

The Kickapoo nation resides in the Eagle Pass area. These Native Americans see the fence that will be built there as a tragic sign.

Congress approved a span of the fence that will go from five miles northwest of Del Río to five miles southeast of Eagle Pass.

“The territory of this reservation will be permanently divided by the hand of man,” said anthropologist and Kickapoo expert Rebeca Brush.

Throughout history, the Kickapoo have had to change their traditions. In the 17th century, they lived in the Great Lakes region. A century later they were displaced to Kansas and Texas.

“It’s one thing to change where you live, but it’s something else to have a fence separate the members of a nation,” Brush explained.

“It’s truly a tragedy. The construction of the fence doesn’t make any sense,” says José Aranda, a member of the Kickapoo in Eagle Pass.

“This isn’t the way to solve a problem that’s more complicated and needs a more intelligent solution,” explained Jaime Loiácono, the priest of a church in Eagle Pass.

“Fifty percent of the high school students on the reservation are Black Rocks. What’s going to happen to them?” the priest asked.

The mayor of the city, Chad Foster, has expressed strong criticism of the fence. “It’s a cure that is worse than the disease,” he said before Congress approved the bill.

The Kickapoo, despite living in the United States for centuries, were not recognized as a nation until 1983.

Two decades later, various miles of fence will divide the land where they live, and the steel beams will be nailed like a threat to the preservation of their unity, family and customs.

URL: http://news.newamericamedia.org/news/view_article.html?article_id=c17899ed7975f1ada871e1da0c8b52f2