Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

March 28, 2012

O'odham Ofelia Rivas: Rights violators Border Patrol and Univ. of Ariz.

Native Nations Water Rights Symposium

O'odham Ofelia Rivas: Human rights violators Border Patrol and University of Arizona

By Brenda Norrell
Censored News

TUCSON – At the Native Nations Rights Symposium, Ofelia Rivas, O’odham shared a blessing and a welcome, then described how the US Border Patrol and the University of Arizona are violating the rights of the O’odham people to live in their way of life.
During her welcome, Rivas offered a water song for the forum which focused on health of water and protection of water.
Rivas, founder of the O'odham VOICE against the Wall, O'odham Rights Human Rights, described how O’odham have lived here since the beginning of the world.
“Take care how you walk because we consider our lands very sacred,” Rivas said during the rights symposium sponsored by Red Ink. She joined Debra White Plume, Lakota, Simon Ortiz, Acoma Pueblo, Dr. Karletta Chief, Dine’ and other Native American speakers at the community event held at the University of Arizona.
Rivas said, “I have been boycotting this university for 10 years because it develops technology that is used against our people.”
She described how the University of Arizona is advancing spyware technology used against the O’odham people while illegally occupying O’odham lands in what is known to others as the US and Mexico.
“Our lands are absolutely in a state of crisis,” she said of the devastation caused by the US Border Patrol and US security forces.
Rivas said all the technology that Homeland Security is developing here at this university goes against the humanity of O’odham.
“This is what this university does.”
Rivas also responded to the upcoming session of the United Nations Rapporteur for Indigenous Peoples to be held at the University of Tucson.
“I have no voice here as a grassroots person and non-academic.”
Speaking on the violence carried out the by the US Border Patrol agents, she described how the Border Patrol agents ran over and killed Bennett Patricio, Jr., an 18-year-old O’odham walking on O’odham land.
“These foreign people invaded my lands and they got away with Bennetts' death."
Rivas described how Patricio’s mother took the case against the Border Patrol all the way to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and justice was never delivered against the Border Patrol agents. When she could not find funding to fight the case any longer, she had to move away from Arizona to build a life for her children who are survivors.
When O’odham cross the so-called border in their O’odham homelands, they have to cross four checkpoints, she said.
“It dehumanizes you.
“There has been physical damage to a lot of people.”
The University of Arizona is part of the militarization and ongoing human rights violations on O’odham lands.
“I boycott this university. I don’t’ step foot on this university.” 
"My presence is to Honor Debra White Plume for her courageous work."
She said besides the damage done to the O’odham by spyware and other technology developed at the university, it is not a healthy place.
“It is all concrete. It is not healthy for anyone.”
Rivas read the following statement to the water symposium:

O’odham Declaration of Allegiance to Mother Earth

In protest we write these foreign words as this is not our natural language, our O’odham language is not a written language which has existed in its oral form since the beginning of the world;

We declare our allegiance to Mother Earth and the Natural World. We are natural people of this world and original people of these lands now known as southern Arizona, United States and northern Sonora, Mexico.

We denounce the physical manipulation and destruction and alteration of the natural lands and people.

We denounce the contamination of the lands, water and air,

We denounce the destruction of mountains, waterways and natural habitats of people, animals and plants,

We denounce the alteration of human life, animal and plant life as well as all mountains and waterways and natural habitats,

We denounce the illegal bisection of our lands and illegal occupation by two foreign countries, the United States and Mexico,

We denounce the militarization of our lands, every day of the year, every hour of the day there is presence of armed military in helicopters, jets and airplanes and unmanned airplanes, on jeeps, high profile trucks and pick-up trucks, on all-terrain vehicles and dirt bikes, and on horseback,

We denounce the United States government aided and staged drug wars on our lands,

We denounce the United States enforcement of Immigration policies on the O’odham the original people of the lands,

We denounce the criminalization and de-humanizing of the O’odham, the original people of the lands;

·        by three military check points existing the present Tohono O’odham Nation Indian Reservation,

·        by monitoring and the surveillance of O’odham communities,

·        by demanding of proof of citizenship of O’odham in our communities,

·        by unwarranted illegal home invasions in O’odham communities,

·        by illegal searches and detainments and deportation of O’odham,

·        by physical and mental abuse and de-humanizing of the O’odham in our communities,

·        by restriction of access to original O’odham lands.

We denounce the ongoing alteration of our people through forced indoctrination through religions, forced assimilation and acculturation.

We are the original people of these lands and we hereby demand you to stop the destruction, contamination and alteration of our home, the Natural World.

We are the O’odham, the original people of these lands, demand the restoration of our Human Rights and Right to Exist and Live by own sovereign government on our Original Ancestral lands.                                                            October 10, 2011

O’odham VOICE Against the WALL
O’odham Rights Human Rights

Ofelia Rivas

P.O. Box 1835

Sells, Arizona 85634

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