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Native Americans fear for their culture as Trump wall looms

Wednesday, April 12, 2017 - 02:23

A Native American nation, Tohono O'odham, is located at the U.S.-Mexican border in Arizona and they fear that President Trump border wall would not only sever their land, but also slice through their community and culture. Colette Luke reports.

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(SOUNDBITE) VERLON JOSE, VICE CHAIRMAN OF TOHONO O'ODHAM NATION, SAYING: "We have communities, a few miles south of here.." Verlon Jose is the vice chairman of the Native American nation - Tohono O'odham... a community squarely in the path of President Trump's border wall... He says his people are worried. (SOUNDBITE) (English) VERLON JOSE, VICE CHAIRMAN OF TOHONO O'ODHAM NATION, SAYING: "we have a cemetery about a mile and a half from here where family members are buried, relatives are buried. There's actually a grave marker in Mexico with the United States military headstone." The Tohono O'odham reservation straddles the US-Mexican border. There are about 10,000 people living on the U.S. side, where there are schools and other services... and another 2,000 living in Mexico. Along the border fence, there are gates that allow individuals from both sides to travel back and forth as needed. (SOUNDBITE) (English) VERLON JOSE, VICE CHAIRMAN OF TOHONO O'ODHAM NATION, SAYING: "And so the impact of a wall would not allow us to do those things on a regular basis. Let me ask you, how would you feel if you were forbidden to go see your relatives whether alive or dead?" President Trump says his 2,200-mile border wall would stop drugs and criminals coming from Mexico... but 62 miles of that would run through Tohono O'odham land... Verlon Jose's cousin Franice Jose, says the impact could be devastating. (SOUNDBITE) (English) FRANCINE JOSE, MEMBER OF TOHONO O'ODHAM NATION AND VERLON JOSE'S COUSIN, SAYING: "I think about the Berlin wall. That was a very negative thing over there, as to my learnings. So, having a wall, that's negative to everybody on both sides." The Tohono O'odham leadership says they're not ruling out a high-profile protest against the wall..if necessary. (SOUNDBITE) (English) VERLON JOSE, VICE CHAIRMAN OF TOHONO O'ODHAM NATION, SAYING: "We want to try to deal with this in a diplomatic way and hopefully that we never have to get to that time where we have to actually physically protest. If we do, I would tell you that I will own up to the words, over my dead body, because that's how important it is to our people." The Interior Department has indicated that there may be room for compromise for groups like the Tohono O'odham, who are directly impacted by the wall. Tribal leaders here on the border however, say that at this point, they are far from satisfied..and they're waiting to see what will happen to their beloved land.

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Native Americans fear for their culture as Trump wall looms

Wednesday, April 12, 2017 - 02:23