By Rafael Carranza | Arizona Repub
Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge, Arizona
The leader of the Tohono O’odham Nation is once again vowing to fight against the construction of new border fencing along their ancestral lands in southwestern Arizona, as works crews encroach sites of historical and cultural significance to the O’odham people.
Some of the key locations include an ancient burial site located in the immediate vicinity of existing border barriers, as well as Quitobaquito Springs — the only natural source of water for dozens of miles around — where construction crews discovered in October fragments of human remains believed to have belonged to O’odham ancestors centuries ago.
The spring is still used as part of the tribe’s sacred Salt Pilgrimage.
“Regardless that it isn’t within our reservation boundaries anymore, but it’s clear, we have inhabited this area since time immemorial,” Chairman Ned Norris Jr. said. “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.”