August 2020

Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

Monday, August 30, 2010

Mike Wilson, Tohono O'odham, responds to threat of poisoned water

Poisoned water threat comes as more migrants die of dehydration on Tohono O'odham land

By Brenda Norrell
© Censored News
Photo: Mike Wilson with humanitarian water tanks on Tohono O'odham Nation. Photo by Brenda Norrell.

ARIZONA -- Mike Wilson, Tohono O'odham who puts out water for migrants on Tohono O'odham land as humanitarian aid, responded to an e-mail threat of poisoned water.

The anonymous e-mail said, "F you. I hope some real Americans will step up and put poison in the water. I hope you are the first to drink."

The e-mail threat, on Aug. 29, was sent in response to the article, "Tohono O'odham Nation surrendered its will to the Border Patrol."

Wilson said, "I'm not surprised by the threat, it is certainly expected and no one is immune. Humane Borders has received these threats for the last ten years, including the writing of 'veneno' (poison) on the sides of its water barrels in the desert.

"The subject government of the Tohono O'odham Nation, its elected leaders and its Imperial master, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, continue to deny and denigrate hundreds of migrant deaths in Indian Country. The B.I.A. is complicit in the decade long (2000-2010) humanitarian crisis on O'odham land. Continuing a legacy of selective neglect of American Indians, the B.I.A. feigns ignorance and silence when it comes to Latino and Indigenous People dying by hyperthermia and dehydration on the Tohono O'odham Reservation.

"This calculated silence by the B.I.A. in Washington, D.C. and in Sells (capital of the Tohono O'odham Nation) is an attempt to inoculate itself against the charge of willful complicity and to wash migrant blood from its hands.

"According to the Pima County Medical Examiner's Office, of 58 migrant deaths in the month of July, 44 were on the Tohono O'odham Reservation. This B.I.A. policy of silence is a self-fulfilling prophesy in the making, in that it achieves its own intended purpose of plausible denial. This deafening B.I.A. silence now assumes the legal consent and approval of migrant deaths on Tohono O'odham tribal land by the Tohono O'odham Nation, BIA, the Department of Interior and the Federal Government of the United States. Blood runs deep.

"Brady McComb's SPECIAL REPORT: DECADE OF DEATH was published in the Arizona Daily Star (Sunday, August 22, 2010). Also, author and reporter Margaret Regan's story, D.O.A., came out in the Tucson Weekly last Thursday, August 26, 2010.

"Both compelling stories are moral indictments against the Government and elected leadership of the Tohono O'odham Nation. The Tohono O'odham Nation continues its futile defensive strategy of presumed isolation and insulation.

"However, as both stories clearly demonstrate, tribal Chairman Ned Norris, Jr., Legislative Council Chairman Verlon Jose and Baboquivari District Council Chairwoman Veronica Harvey cannot insulate themselves against the stretch and scope of a free press.

"No amount of spin from the Tohono O'odham Nation's hired PR firm in Phoenix can protect the Tohono O'odham Nation from its culpability for Latino and Indigenous migrant deaths.

"Neither can the elected tribal leadership insulate itself against the putrid stench of another hundred decomposing migrant bodies on O'odham lands. The Government of the Tohono O'odham Nation needs to purchase Biological Hazard suits for when its leaders leave the reservation, if they can't smell the stench on themselves, others can."

More water,
Mike Wilson
Tohono O'odham
August 30, 2010

Censored News

Also see:
O'odham on the border to National Guard: 'We do not want you on our land'

Watch video: Tucson police turn mom and dad over to Border Patrol 'dog catcher' truck, as kids cry in the night:

More about this video by the Three Sonorans at Phoenix New Times:

National Guardsmen eager to smuggle cocaine on Arizona border arrested in sting operation:

Michigan Asserts Sovereignty Rights in Canoe Crossing

Michigan Asserts Sovereignty Rights in Canoe Crossing
Article and photos by Brita Brookes©
Censored News
August 27, 2010

The local aboriginal community from both the United States metro Detroit area and local Windsor, Ontario area gathered at Detroit’s Belle Isle Park on Friday, August 27, 2010. With the sun shining and warm summer temperatures, the group gathered to launch the first ever USA-Canada Canoe Border Crossing as a peaceful demonstration of the rights stated and found in the Jay Treaty.

Local American Indian Movement of Michigan organizers Bryan Halfday and Helen Wolfe held the event as a way to increase public awareness about aboriginal treaty rights, create local community support and to educate people about inherent and ancestral rights. The event was planned as a part of a three day weekend of events all related to the Honoring Our Traditions Pow Wow which was held in Lincoln Park, Michigan’s Council Point Park also organized by the local Michigan American Indian Movement chapter.

Dennis Banks co-founder of the American Indian Movement participated in the canoe border crossing and stated that the ability and right to cross the river to Canada from the United States freely was “guaranteed in the Jay Treaty and it is our ancestral right to cross freely without harassment. This is our ancestral land of which we view per our history as one in the same with no borders. This is our home. We are sovereign.”

The canoe crossing started at the west end of Belle Isle Park whereupon the canoes paddled across the busy Detroit River to the Windsor, Ontario Peace Fountain. Once at the Windsor Peace Fountain, the canoe groups touched Canadian land and were greeted by a large group including singers from the Canadian American Friendship Center. A few onlookers with opposing views yelled at one canoe participant to “go home.” Andrea Pierce stated that she was surprised at seeing and hearing opposition to her implementing her aboriginal rights and responded to them respectfully that “she never crossed any borders, but that the borders had crossed her.”

Among the canoe participants were John Marcus, Andrea Pierce, Stephanie Bartley, Rob Henry, Tim Seneca, Dean Kicknosway, Julianne Horsfield, Robert Naimy and Chase Horsfield. When asked about the reason why he did the crossing, canoe participant Dean Kicknosway replied that I wanted the population to know that “we are a living people with a history, not a people from history.”

The canoes crossed just prior to having several large freighters pass through on the busy Detroit River. The Detroit River is home to one of the busiest International Ports, the Ambassador Bridge and a hub of US and Canadian Commerce.

When asked how the experience was Stephanie Bartley stated that “she will remember the day forever. It was beautiful and I am very emotional about doing this knowing my ancestors probably travelled this way a long time ago.”

The event ended at the East end of Belle Isle where people gathered to sing and celebrate a peaceful and safe crossing. It was discussed among the crowd and with Dennis Banks, Bryan Halfday and Helen Wolfe that the hope would be for this to become a yearly event. The hope is that more people may partake in the event next year. To commemorate the crossing Dennis Banks is having a custom embroidered patch made that says “Just the Beginning- Continuing Our Ancestral Past- Detroit to Windsor Jay Treaty Canoe Border Crossing.” If anybody would like to volunteer in coordinating and or promoting this event for next year please contact Bryan Halfday at