Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Women on the Border Awards: Ofelia Rivas and Teresa Armenta Mendez

Congratulations to Ofelia Rivas, Tohono O'odham, and Maria Teresa Armenta Mendez of Altar, Sonora, as Women on the Border Award winners 2010, awarded by Borderlinks.
Photo: Ofelia Rivas receives award /Photo Borderlinks

Ofelia Rivas, founder of O'odham VOICE Against the Wall, was nominated by Censored News publisher Brenda Norrell.
“Ofelia repeatedly risks her life for the purpose of truth and justice. She has been the voice of grass-roots people on the border and struggled to protect ceremonies and sacred pilgrimage routes that have been divided by the border. She was the lone voice that exposed the destruction of the graves of O’odham ancestors by the construction of the border wall. Most recently, Ofelia served four days in jail in Chiapas for her support of the indigenous rights movement of the Zapatistas."

Women on the Border Award: The Results are In!
By Borderlinks
More photos: http://www.borderlinks.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=135:womenborder2010&catid=35:general
Our second annual Women on the Border Event was held last week in Sahuarita, AZ. Supporters came together to celebrate the impact persistent and powerful women have had in working towards the cause of justice, from both sides of the border.
While enjoying delicious food cooked by our staff and volunteers from the Hogar de Esperanza y Paz, participants listened to Dr. Norma Price speak about her experiences in the southwestern desert, and Kathryn Ferguson read excerpts from her book, "Crossing with the Virgin." Debbi McCullough, a long-time activist and artist, also displayed some of her latest work made from articles left behind in the desert.
Our list of very qualified nominees went as follows:Valerie James, Sarah Roberts, Laurie Jurs, Debbi McCullough, Annie Swanson, Ofelia Rivas, Bethia Daugenbaugh, Maria Teresa Armenta Mendez, Kat Rodriguez, Shura Wallin, Margo Cowan, Sisters of the Eucharist from Nogales, Sonora (Engracia, Lorena, and Imelda)
In the end, only two awards could be given, and they went to....drum roll please....
From the Tohono O'odham Nation, Ofelia Rivas!
Ofelia is a member of the Tohono O’odham Nation and founder of Women Against the Wall. “Ofelia repeatedly risks her life for the purpose of truth and justice.” “She has been the voice of grass-roots people on the border and struggled to protect ceremonies and sacred pilgrimage routes that have been divided by the border. “She was the lone voice that exposed the destruction of the graves of O’odham ancestors by the construction of the border wall. Most recently, Ofelia served four days in jail in Chiapas for her support of the indigenous rights movement of the Zapatistas.
And from Altar, Sonora, Mexico, Maria Teresa Armenta Mendez.
Tere first began noticing migrants taking over the local plaza in Altar, Sonora. At first, community members were angry that their recreational space was appropriated by these people, but Tere soon saw their desperate situation and mobilized to help. Her work, first to serve a sandwich and coffee soon expanded to attend the sick and seek shelter for them. She listened to their stories of human rights violations, spoke to them about the risks they would encounter in the desert, and educated them about their rights. Eventually, she and a group of volunteers saw the construction of CCAMYN – more than a shelter, more like a dignified place of respite for those who were recovering from their journey to or from the US. Tere’s husband was the director of CCAMYN and spent the rest of his life at the side of migrants.
Special thanks to Norma, Kathryn, and Debbi for the entertainment and insight. And a big heartfelt thanks to the rest of you who attended and/or have supported us in other ways.

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About Censored News
Censored News was created in response to censorship by Indian Country Today. Censored News publisher Brenda Norrell was a longtime staff reporter for Indian Country Today, when she was censored repeatedly and terminated in 2006. Now in its 9th year with no advertising, grants or sponsors, Censored News continues as a labor of love, a service to grassroots Indigenous Peoples and human rights advocates.

Brenda Norrell has been a news reporter in Indian country for 33 years, beginning at Navajo Times during the 18 years that she lived on the Navajo Nation. She served as a stringer for AP and USA Today on the Navajo Nation and later was based in Tucson and traveled with the Zapatistas in Mexico.

After being blacklisted by all the paying media, Norrell has continued to work without pay, providing live coverage with Earthcycles from Indian lands across the US, including live coverage of the Longest Walk, with the five month live talk radio across America in 2008.