Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

May 10, 2020

O'odham Ofelia Rivas: Arizona Native Roundtable was racist strategy to minimize truth

Ofelia Rivas, Tohono O'odham, photo Jason Jaacks
Ofelia Rivas, Tohono O'odham: 
Arizona Native Roundtable was misguided, racist political strategy to minimize truth

Article by Brenda Norrell
Censored News

PHOENIX -- Ofelia Rivas, Tohono O'odham, said the Native Roundtable which President Trump held with two of Arizona's 22 Native Nation leaders is another outrageous systematic racist Trump scheme to minimize truth.

"There are over 574 Indigenous Nations on Turtle Island, and 22 in Arizona. Trump addressing the Indian health issue at the Roundtable is another misguided, racist political strategy to systematically minimize the true facts," Rivas told Censored News

"All Indigenous Nations are greatly impacted by the pandemic. Putting a child-size bandage on an already underfunded health system adds to the hundreds of years of mismanagement and micro-management, placing it into plain view, the panoramic view."

"The fact that there were two representatives for all 22 Nations in Arizona is another outrageous systematic Trump scheme to minimize the truth."

Ofelia Rivas, Tohono O'odham, is the founder of O'odham Voice against the Wall. Rivas testified before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in Jamaica in 2019, exposing the militarization of her homeland and abuse of O'odham by U.S. Border Patrol agents on the Tohono O'odham Nation.

Rivas exposed the Israeli U.S. spy towers -- integrated fixed towers -- now being constructed on O'odham land by the Israeli defense contractor Elbit Systems, responsible for Apartheid security in Palestine.

The tower sites include an O'odham burial site and ceremonial site on the Tohono O'odham Nation. The tower construction is planned in remote O'odham communities away from the border where traditional O'odham live. The U.S. Border Patrol will be able to view the homes of traditional O'odham on their laptops if this construction and destruction continue. Already, Border Patrol agents stalk and harass traditional O'odham women and elders in these communities.

The integrated fixed tower contract was granted by U.S. Homeland Security during the Obama administration and continued under the Trump administration. The Tohono O'odham elected government approved the construction of the spy towers on the land in the spring of 2019, ignoring the objections of traditional O'odham.

Trump met with Navajo Vice-President Myron Lizer, Second Lady Dottie Lizer and Gila River Gov. Stephen Lewis, Akimel O'odham, during a Native Roundtable on Tuesday.

During the Roundtable, Trump praised the construction of the border wall. Neither of the tribal leaders spoke up and defended Native American rights, neither spoke out about the detonation of Monument Hill, an O'odham burial place, which was blown up during the construction of the border wall last month. The detonation was at the same time that Tohono O'odham Chairman Ned Norris was in Washington testifying against the construction of the border wall.

Monument Hill is on Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument on the Arizona border, near the border of the Tohono O'odham Nation. Currently, Trump has waived all federal protection laws that protect Native sacred places, endangered species, and the environment, to build the border wall in the fragile Sonoran Desert.

During the Native Roundtable, neither Navajo Vice President Lizer, nor Gila River Gov. Lewis spoke out against the destruction or in defense of Native sacred places, endangered species, or protection of the land, water, and air.

Meanwhile, the coronavirus funding was delayed to Native American Nations.

The Navajo Nation and 10 other Native Nations filed a federal lawsuit for their allocated federal funds. The Navajo Nation said the lawsuit was to halt a scheme by the United States to send coronavirus funding to Alaska Native Corporations, whose stockholders include non-Indians.

The scheme involved the Interior Secretary who was previously employed as a lobbyist by Alaska Native Corporations. Alaska Native Corporations hold U.S. government contracts with ICE and detention centers, and contracts for mining and pipelines.

Read more, with full transcript about the Native Roundtable at Censored News:

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