In their own language, Tohono O’odham means Desert People. According to their history, the O’odham have called the Sonora desert home since this world began. Today, their homelands are divided between two political entities - the United States and Mexico. The Tohono O’odham Nation in southern Arizona shares seventy-six miles of the international boundary. The maelstrom of increasing violence and the United States government’s actions to halt the exodus of people moving north have stripped cultural and religious rights from the O’odham. Today, their traditional way of life, the Him’dag, is under siege. The ubiquitous presence of U.S. Border Patrol, the construction of a border wall in 2006, and the closure of ceremonial passageways affect the O’odham every day. Ofelia Rivas, the founder of Tohono O’odham Voice Against the Wall, is an O’odham activist working to halt the cultural and environmental debacle perpetrated against her people, her way of life and her homelands. She grew up and lives less than a mile from the international border.
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