Native Burial Sites Blown Up To Make Room For Trump’s Border Wall
Construction of US President Donald Trump’s long-dreaded border wall is underway – with Native American burial sites bearing the explosive brunt.
The US-Mexico wall has been mainstay of Trump’s presidential manifesto since coming to power, with sections of it being built across his first term.
Recently, authorities confirmed ‘controlled blasting’ had begun in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in Arizona: a Unesco-recognised natural reserve of huge significance to a number of Native American groups.
US Customs and Border Protection confirmed explosions began this week and will continue through to the end of February.
A statement sent to The Intercept read:
The construction contractor has begun controlled blasting, in preparation for new border wall system construction, within the Roosevelt Reservation at Monument Mountain in the US Border Patrol’s Tucson Sector. The controlled blasting is targeted and will continue intermittently for the rest of the month.
While the agency assured it will ‘continue to have an environmental monitor present during these activities as well as on-going clearing activities,’ others are sceptical about their consideration for the preservation of the site.
Rep. Raúl Grijalva, an Arizona Democrat and chair of the House Committee on Natural Resources, called the area’s destruction ‘sacrilegious’, saying he has little faith the ‘environmental monitor will do anything to avoid, mitigate, or even point out some of the sacrilegious things that are occurring and will continue to occur, given the way they’re proceeding’.
Back in 1976, the United Nations designated Organ Pipe, also known as Monument Hill, as an International Biosphere Reserve, describing it as ‘a pristine example of an intact Sonoran Desert ecosystem’. Grijalva told BBC News: ‘What we saw on Monument Hill was opposing tribes who were respectfully laid to rest – that is the one being blasted with dynamite.’
While the land is now under the purview of the US government, tribal chairman Ned Norris Jr said ‘we have inhabited this area since time immemorial’. He added: ‘They’re our ancestors. They’re our remnants of who we are as a people, throughout this whole area. And it’s our obligation, it’s our duty to do what is necessary to protect that.’
The 2005 REAL ID Act has allowed the Trump administration to waive dozens of laws – those protecting the likes of Native American graves, endangered species and the environment – in their pursuit of building the border wall.
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