Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Lipan Apache to Obama: Stop Border Wall

Lipan Apache to Obama: Stop Border Wall
Posted by Brenda Norrell - December 23, 2008

EL CALABOZ, Texas -- Lipan Apache and Jumano Apache in Texas sent a strong message to President-elect Obama to halt the construction of the border wall. Eloisa Tamez and her daughter Margo Tamez described the ongoing militarization of the border and the attempts by Homeland Security to seize Lipan Apache lands for the border wall in Texas, during a telephone press conference today.

Eloisa Tamez said Homeland Security is attempting to build the wall north of the border, on Lipan Apache land, and deny them access to their lands south of the levee. Tamez asked Obama to restore the rights in the Constitution. "We have had enough lawlessness in Texas at our expense," she said.

Jose Matus, Yaqui and director of the Indigenous Alliance without Borders, and Michael Hill, San Carlos Apache, both in Arizona, spoke out in support of Indigenous Peoples who oppose the construction of the border wall and the ongoing human rights abuses at the US border, from California to Texas.

Speakers pointed out the abuse of power by Border Patrol agents in Texas. Further, speakers stated how the US has targeted the poor and minorities to seize lands for the border wall, but has not seized the resort lands of primarily white and wealthy Texans.

Listen to today's telephone press conference at:

Margo Tamez, co-founder of the Lipan Apache Women Defense, said, "We are invoking the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, U.S. federal laws, and Texas state laws which have been fought for by citizens of the U.S. in order to protect the people and the nation from violent aggressors against sovereignty.

"In our case, Indigenous peoples and persons must use both traditional community law systems and state legal mechanisms in order to disrupt the violent measures that the U.S. government continues to deploy against us in this land grab," Tamez said in a statement today.

"It is no secret that Indigenous communities and the natural resources such as water, oil, minerals, medicinal botanicals, wildlife, and game in the Lower Rio Grande Valley will be sectored off through militarization and converted into a 'no mans' land' and kill zone.

"Our case speaks to Indigenous communities in crisis throughout our region. Our way of life and our culture depend upon the land and the people remaining intact - together - not figuratively but under law systems - both tribal, communal and constitutional. The border wall must not be built and our rights restored and upheld."

Tamez said in December of 2007 the hostile policies of the US DHS/Secure Border Initiative against border communities came to the foreground in landmark struggles on the U.S.-Mexico border.

The construction of the border wall through the middle of ancient, Rio Grande communities, forced Eloisa García Támez and community elders of El Calaboz Rancheria, as well as numerous poor land owners along the Rio Grande, to take actions to stop DHS.

They seek to halt Homeland Security from taking the community's lands, ancient burials, archaeological resources, botanical and medicinal riparian zones, and the community's pastoral ways of life which are dependent upon subsistence cattle and goat herding, grazing rights, water rights, medicinal and riparian rights-in other words Indigenous Peoples' communal life-ways.

The Lipan Apache Women Defense's fight raised complicated constitutional, civil, and human rights in the face of intensified government force to pressure the community to surrender their lands.

One year later approximately 80 landowners continue to litigate their ancestral land claims along the Texas-Mexico border. Some of the land claims, such as Eloisa García Támez', pre-date the United States as a sovereign nation and are directly connected to forced colonization and dispossession inflicted by Spain, Texas, Mexico and the U.S. on the Lipan Apache.

In the face of increasing public criticism of the border wall and serious claims of human rights violations before the Inter-American Commission/OAS, Indigenous peoples all along the U.S.-Mexico bordered lands are reframing and redefining the border wall conflict. They are organizing their networks around a framework of "Indigenous Peoples & Principles."

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