/ Modified feb 11, 2020 10:20 a.m.

Tohono O'odham Nation denounces border wall construction and blasting of cultural sites

The blasting project reportedly went through Monument Hill, an Indigenous burial site on ancestral Tohono O'odham land.

Tohono O'odham Chairman Ned Norris Jr. has said he opposes the use of explosives to clear a path for new border wall in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument.

The blasting project reportedly went through Monument Hill, an Indigenous burial site on ancestral Tohono O'odham land that's now within the national monument. The construction work is in preparation for part of the 43-mile section of new bollard wall in Organ Pipe, according to the Arizona Daily Star.

"The Tohono O’odham Nation is adamantly opposed to the construction of the 30-foot, fortified border wall, which would irrevocably harm cultural sites, sacred sites and the environment," Norris said.

U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva, D-Ariz., said in a video on Twitter Sunday, Feb. 10, Norris told him the O'odham buried Apache fighters on Monument Hill following a battle between the two tribes.

In a statement, Norris said the Department of Defense has not consulted with the Tohono O'odham Nation about how these actions will impact tribal lands, resources and rights, which he said goes against the agency's own policies. According the DOD's tribal policy, it must "provide affected tribes an opportunity to participate in the decision-making process that will ensure these tribal interests are given due consideration in a manner consistent with tribal sovereign authority."

Grijalva and U.S. Reps. Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Ariz., have criticized construction of the new border barriers in Arizona due to the destruction of O'odham sites and environmental damage.

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