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Immigrants Leaving Mounds of Trash on Tohono O'Odham Indian Sacred Lands
Posted to NDN AIM by ErthAvengr
By Paul Cicala
The Tohono O'Odham Nation faces an environmental crisis. Every day, nearly
1,500 undocumented immigrants pass through the U.S.'s second largest indian
reservation, leaving thousands of pounds of trash on tribal lands.
News 13 recently got a first-hand look at some of the areas on the
reservation that appear more like a trash dump than sacred lands.
Piles of trash grow to mounds of trash on the Tohono O'Odham lands. In the
process of searching for the American dream, some immigrants are trashing
Henry A. Ramon, Vice Chairman for the Tohono O'Odham Nation, says, "Mother
Earth is something very sacred, and here we see trash all over it."
Some sacred areas on the Tohono O'Odham Indian reservation larger than the
size of a football field are littered with thousands of pounds of trash left
behind by illegal border crossers.
Gerry Carrasco, a U.S. Border Patrol Agent in the Tucson Sector says, "This
trash that they leave. This stuff isn't gonna go away any time soon. Who
cleans it up?"
Ramon says, "It's the responsibility of the federal government."
Ramon says his people shouldn't be left with the burden of dealing with the
mounds of trash. The Tohono O'Odham Nation shares a 71-mile-border with
Mexico. Ramon says it's a federal border so it's also a problem of the
"With the amount of immigrants crossing our land every day, we just can't
handle it. We just don't have the manpower," says Ramon.
The Tohono O'Odham Nation is the second largest reservation in the country,
with a population of 22,000. Nearly 2,000 tribal members live south of the
Border crossers enter the reservation from Mexico on foot, and form makeshift
camps near major pickup points for coyotes, or undocumented immigrant
Carrasco adds, "They get to here (a spot about 30 miles north of the
Sonora/Arizona border), and basically from here is where they're gonna load
up. So, they don't need the extra clothes and water jugs. They leave trash
here, because there's no where to put it as they get loaded up."
Ramon says, "It's a sore eye to go down the road and see all this trash."
Tohono O'Odham officials estimate each undocumented immigrant leaves behind
more than 8 pounds of litter. With nearly 1,500 crossing tribal lands every
day, that amounts to 13,000 thousand pounds a day, and almost 5 million
pounds a year.
Tribal leaders are asking the federal, state and county governments to get
involved. However, Ramon says it's an uphill battle.
"We do try to clean what we can, but, still we're overwhelmed," says Ramon.
If there's no solution soon, Ramon fears the "Mother Earth" that he and other
tribal leaders worked so hard to preserve for future generations could all be
O'Odham officials say, at this time, they still haven't received any
indication that the federal, state and county government will help
economically, or by providing manpower to clean the trash up. Thousands of
O'Odham tribal members also live in Mexico on native lands south of the
border. Mexican officials say those areas are also being trashed by border
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