By Brenda Norrell
NOGALES, Ariz. -- Homeland Security destroyed 69 graves of Tohono O'odham ancestors in one location alone while constructing the US/Mexico border wall south of Tucson, in violation of all federal laws created to protect American Indian remains.
Homeland Security and US courts waived all federal laws to protect Native American graves and the environment and then allowed for border wall construction at San Pedro near Nogales. The graves were violated and the details were not made public.
Although the archaeologist exposing the desecration only revealed it as a rare find, for O'odham, these are the graves of their ancestors which were destroyed.
Archaeologist Maren Hopkins said the village is believed to have existed from around A.D. 700 to 1200.
"Archaeologists found: 23 pit houses, 14 possible pit houses, 97 thermal pits, a number of storage pits, five dog burials and 69 human burials. As is customary in this region, the human remains have been repatriated to the Tohono O'Odham Indian Reservation," according to the Nogales International newspaper.
In October 2007, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff pushed ahead with the fence, winning federal court approval to waive federal laws.
In another location in May of 2007, the contractor Boeing dug up O'odham ancestors on Tohono O'odham Nation land, southwest of Sells, Arizona. Although the Tohono O'odham Nation did not make the desecration public, O'odham Ofelia Rivas exposed the destruction of O'odham graves. The ancestors were reburied at this location.
The U.S. has not revealed the total number of Native American graves that were dug up and destroyed while building the US/Mexico border wall after the US waived all federal laws. The border divides the traditional homelands of many Indigenous Peoples, including the Kumeyaay in California, the Cocopah and Tohono O'odham in Arizona and the Tigua at Ysleta del Sur in El Paso, Texas. Near Brownsville, Texas, the Lipan Apache continue to fight the seizure of lands by Homeland Security for the border wall.
The region south of Tucson, where 69 graves were desecrated by Homeland Security, is the same region where the Israeli Apartheid corporation Elbit Systems was subcontracted by Boeing for border spy technology. Elbit also performed work on the Apartheid Wall of Israel and provided unmanned aerial vehicles to patrol the US border in southern Arizona.
Those drones were based at Fort Huachuca, where protesters have protested the US Army Intelligence Center's role in torture in Iraq and Afghanistan. Army personnel responsible for torture in Abu Ghraib were trained at Fort Huachuca. Earlier, Fort Huachuca was the location of the publication of the School of Americas' torture training manuals, made public in 1996, responsible for the murder, rape and torture of masses in Central and South American in the 1980s and 1990s. An unknown number of Indigenous Peoples and farmers were tortured and executed as their lands were seized for corporations.
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