INDIAN NATION, ITS HOME SPLIT BY US-MEXICO BORDER, SEEKS RELIEF 03/16/99 The Tohono O'odham Nation, its homeland split for more than a century by the U.S.-Mexico border, wants the two countries to consider creating a port of entry within the Indian reservation's borders. Nearly 100 O'odham from both countries gathered last week in this village eight miles north of the border to discuss that idea and other issues. Some fear such a port would encourage commercial traffic to Sells, the capital of the U.S. reservation, which in turn would strain reservation roads and disturb remote villages. The tribe's homeland was divided between Mexico and the United States in the early 1850s when the United States bought much of it from Mexico in the Gadsden Purchase. Today most O'odham in Mexico _ about 900, plus about 900 others awaiting enrollment _ live in several villages just south of the border, a drive of about 30 minutes to the tribe's U.S. reservation in Arizona. The tribe has 23,000 members. With no port of entry on the 75-mile reservation boundary with Mexico, O'odham who want to cross legally or declare goods must drive three to four hours to ports at Sasabe, Nogales or Sonoyta, Mexico. They say few have the trucks, money or inclination to make that long drive. So members cross the border almost daily to visit relatives, obtain medical care or take part in tribal ceremonies, those who gathered here last weekend say. They often use an unofficial cattle gate in a barbed-wire fence at San Miguel, 26 highway miles south of Sells. "To them, the border doesn't exist," said rancher Wilburt Thomas of Vamori. "One of the elders said (that) in the beginning when our creator, I'itoi, created us, that border wasn't there and people could move freely across. "He said that border was made for the Milgan and the Jujkam " the white man and Mexicans. "And that's a very strong belief here." However, in that remote, rough region, they risk confrontations with smugglers, Mexican soldiers, Customs officers and Border Patrol agents. Lavern Jose, a volunteer driver with a tribal program that transports O'odham in Mexico, said she has had "many scary incidents" with officials and others. Officials on both sides of the border "always threaten to take the vehicle away from me," she said, sometimes at gunpoint. Raymond G. Valenzuela, who lives in an Indian village near Caborca, Mexico, said U.S. agents always let him pass through the gate without trouble because they know him as a tribe member. He said other tribal members, including those who seldom cross because they're intimidated, sometimes have been detained or have been forced to turn back. Dennis Ramon, chairman of the tribe's Legislative Council, said the tribe is working with the Immigration and Naturalization Service to ask Congress to reduce restrictions on passage and citizenship. Ramon said lack of a convenient port of entry adds to the problem. He said O'odham leaders broached the idea of a port last week in Mexico City and have asked Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly of the U.S. Customs Service by letter to "explore the possibility" of an entry port. Under tribal law, O'odham who are citizens and residents of Mexico may enroll in the U.S.-based tribe. The U.S. government recognizes them as tribal members but not as U.S. citizens. Last year, the Tohono O'odham Nation drafted a proposal for dual citizenship for tribal members in Mexico, but it wasn't introduced in Congress. Roger Maier, a Customs Service spokesman in El Paso, Texas, said Customs will help supply information regarding a possible port but that any such entryway would have to be established by the State Department. He acknowledged Customs officers accommodate the O'odham by letting them pass through "informal crossings" such as the San Manuel gate. John J. Pershing's epic chase of Francisco "Pancho" Villa across Mexico ended in total failure. Villa, courted by the U.S. as a likely leader to bring peace to that country, was later dumped. In retaliation, Villa and his followers raided Columbus, N.M. Albertine Fowler of Aztec is the first Navajo and just the fifth woman to ever become a Bloomfield Police officer. With some of the lowest wages in the region paid to police officers, Campbell said he is glad to have someone with Fowler's qualifications coming to work for the department. Fowler is fluent in three languages, English, Spanish and Navajo, as well as being a long-distance runner. [Soon to be a Tony Hillerman novel no doubt ! ] A current project of the Searchers Genealogical Society is the Early Settlers Project, which provides individuals with the opportunity to obtain a certificate showing that an ancestor resided in Roosevelt County prior to 1920. The city council sat mute for a two-hour scolding over its insistence that Juan de Onate deserves a statue. Onate and his group of Spanish settlers arrived in 1598. Lloyd Tortalita, the governor of Acoma Pueblo said "Onate was not a man of honor to our people. His cruel, inhuman treatment of our people is not forgiven. We are totally against this. Onate was sentenced (by the Spanish government) to perpetual banishment from New Mexico. That banishment should be adhered to whether in person or in statue." A centuries-old practice came to an unexpected end for many Mexicans this week, when the government eliminated the traditional siesta for 1.5 million government workers. A team plans to use metal detectors and other equipment to search for the missing camera of Irvine and Mallory who would have photographed each other had they reached the summit in 1924. Their film might be salvageable if the camera has remained intact and no light has entered. The expedition also will be looking for the bodies "dressed in tattered clothes that broke into pieces when touched." The 1975 sighting led to speculation that the body might be Mallory's or Irvine's. A wheel-lock musket owned by John Alden, one of the nation's first settlers, and an M-16 rifle used in the last war bookend the $3.1 million National Firearms Museum. NPS Historic Photo Collection

>From: Allen Dart Old Pueblo Archaeology Center Brian, It will help us as readers, and probably will help SWA financially, if you will include a brief description for each of the "You help SWA..." affiliate links for web-based e-commerce, please tell/remind us what we can purchase at:;; and

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