Tribal Leader was in tears after the Trump administration used dynamites to blow up the area to build the wall.
The Trump administration is busy desecrating Native American burial sites and destroying protected cactuses to build the border wall. The administration is side-stepping dozens of laws to fulfill the President's campaign promises. Native American burial sites have been blasted using dynamites, hurting the sentiments of tribals. “No one reveres our military veterans more than the O’odham, however, dynamiting these sacred sites and burial grounds is the same as bulldozing Arlington National Cemetery or any other cemetery," said Ned Norris, the Tohono O'odham Nation Chairman. The tribal leader from Arizona got emotional as he spoke to a congressional committee about US officials destroying the sacred land, reported The New York Times.
“It's hard to see the blasting that you showed on the video today because I know in my heart what our elders have told us: that it is home to our ancestors,” said a tearful Norris. The dynamites are going off at the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, an area recognized as an internationally protected biosphere reserve by UNESCO. The National Monument was established by proclamation in 1937 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. “To state it clearly, we are enduring crimes against humanity,” said Verlon M. José, the governor of the Tohono O’odham in northern Mexico. Verlon M. José added that the blasts were a little too close to home. “Tell me where your grandparents are buried and let me dynamite their graves,” said José. "This wall is already putting a scar across our heart.” John Mennell, a Border Patrol spokesman, disputed the claims by O’odham leaders and said that “no biological, cultural or historical sites were identified within the project area.”
Hollywood star Leonardo Dicaprio and Ellen Degeneres slammed the development. Ellen wrote: I don’t care what political party you belong to, this is just plain horrible. Devastating. The Department of Homeland Security acting Secretary Chad F. Wolf confirmed to the Congress that he planned to go the location to address their concerns. U.S. Representative Deb Haaland, who's also a member of the Laguna Pueblo tribe said, "When tribal leaders don’t have a seat at the table, indigenous history is lost."
🇺🇸— Planetary Security🌍 (@Planetary_Sec) February 20, 2020
Trump waived Native American Graves Protection Act to allow blast hole drilling into Monument Hill to build his wall. It’s a sacred site and burial site significant to multiple tribes. Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in Arizona.
Federal courts have waived laws protecting the area and cactuses by citing Trump’s national emergency declaration in 2019 to cease undocumented immigration. This has enabled Trump officials to blast their way into building the wall. “All of the desecration to build this wall constitutes a very personal attack on us. Why have laws when there is no accountability for these abuses?” asked Amber Ortega, 33, an O’odham student who lives near the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. Cutting a saguaro cactus in Arizona can lead to years in prison but thanks to the waiver, the Trump administration has been busy building the wall with no regard for the area. Saguaro cactuses are a protected species and is estimated to live for up to 200 years. Tribal leaders who live on either side of the wall claim that the work is also affecting an aquifer that has been providing them with water for over 16,000 years.
“Attempts to gloss over the needless destruction of saguaros is another reminder of the harm being caused by the ridiculous border wall,” said Ned Norris, reported Los Angeles Times. “All of this is being done as federal agencies still have not held any meaningful consultations with the nation, which are mandated by federal law and executive order.”
Organ Pipe National Monument was established to protect the organ pipe cactus — a beautiful & rare columnar cactus species that doesn’t grow anywhere else in the U.S.— Laiken Jordahl (@LaikenJordahl) February 17, 2020
Yesterday, I found an organ pipe chopped up and hidden under a brush pile in the shadow of the #BorderWall. pic.twitter.com/IEkfp1QNqK
The building of the wall has also put the eco-system in danger. “This project will change the evolutionary history of this landscape, impacting species migrations, seed dispersal, the flow of water,” said Mr. Jordahl, who works for the Center for Biological Diversity, an organization focused on saving imperiled species. “It’s painfully obvious that we’re destroying what this place was established to protect.”