Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

September 14, 2020

O'odham Ofelia Rivas -- Over 35 Years of Human Rights Work on O'odham Land

Ofelia Rivas In Jamaica 
Photo by Brenda Norrell 

Ofelia Rivas is the founder of O'odham Voice Against the Wall and delivering food to O'odham on the south side of the border during the pandemic.

O'odham Voice Against the Wall
By Censored News
French translation by Christine Prat

In May 2002, Ofelia Rivas raised her own funds to attend the first and four consecutive forums of the United Nations Permanent Forum for Indigenous Issues in New York City, New York to document and present human rights violations in O'odham communities along the United States/Mexico border.

After 9/11 there were the U.S. Border Patrol's persistent violent attacks on O'odham and restrictions of O'odham members' rights to freely cross the border on traditional O'odham routes.

After exhausting various local avenues,  Ofelia advocated for O'odham crossing the border for ceremony and traditional peoples living on both sides of the border in a continuous media campaign.

A media blackout by local authorities ensued but Oodham VOICE Against the WALL invited The New York Times, LA Times, New York Post, and international news, The Guardian and Reuters, to sit under her small ramada to talk about these issues of human rights violations, restriction of mobility, displacement and arrests and detainment and deportation of O'odham within the O'odham traditional homelands.

A small group protested the arrival of more border patrol and the illegal check point at the Tohono O'odham Nation eastern boundary.

Oodham VOICE Against the WALL is a small group of grassroots traditional peoples. Ofelia represented this group not only at the United Nations but in Bolivia at the World Indigenous Summit on Climate Change where she was nominated and seated as a group of 7 presidents tasked to write the Rights of Mother Earth which was presented to the United Nation General Council by Bolivian President Evo Morales.

Ofelia attended the 2010 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Cancun, Mexico, where the United States barred all registered observers from attending the entire session.

At the aftermath of Standing Rock, Ofelia was a delegate to the World Commission on Human Rights General Session convening in Jamaica, West Indies to present impacts of the militarization of Indigenous communities and attacks such as those on O'odham homelands and the Standing Rock peaceful prayers convergence.

In recent times, there are the projects of continuous support of O'odham living along the U.S. Mexico border such as vital food deliveries and travel to lodge paperwork with local governments to document abuse and continuous encroachment on communities and dangerous attacks on O'odham.

Ofelia is only supported by long time friends and supporters. The O'odham VOICE Against the WALL and the O'odham Women Collective, support the annual holiday toy drive. These are not for-profit organizations. All donations are managed and used only for the benefit of the O'odham.

In this article, we are attesting to the local and international work of Ofelia Rivas founder of O'odham VOICE Against the WALL.

At this most critical time with the raging pandemic, and dangerous illegal border activity conflict, numerous organizations have started co-opting and mimicking our long time work as well as setting up internet fundraising sources.

These new organizations are not working with or in association with the local people and people living in the impacted lands of the O'odham.

We are urging friends and supporters to donate what they can to support our work. We are in great need. This year we had a total of $800 towards food purchase and gas expenses for people on both sides of the border. We also had a total of $600 to pay for vehicle repairs to continue our work. Our sincere and appreciate for this support.

The Oodham VOICE Against the WALL will always protect its Elders and entire membership from exploitation and coercion.

Photo by Jason Jaaks

Donate by mail: Ofelia Rivas, PO Box 1853, Sells Arizona, 85635.

Copyright Ofelia Rivas, Censored News, may not be used without permission.

No comments: