Reservation ban of water for migrants is reported
I don't want to go on being just a root in the shadows,
vacillating, extended, shivering with dream,
down in the damp bowels of earth,
absorbing it, thinking it, eating it every day.
-Pablo Neruda from 'Walking Around'
Border issues in the news...
A Tohono O'odham tribe member who has been putting water in remote desert areas for the past seven years for the benefit of illegal immigrants says he has been told to stop.
The order was given Saturday morning while Mike Wilson was southwest of Sells on the reservation showing 11 non-tribal guests one of the four water stations he operates, Wilson said.
A Tohono O'odham police officer approached Wilson and said the district chairwoman, Veronica Harvey, had instructed her to tell Wilson to take down the water station and escort his guests off the reservation, Wilson said. He didn't take down the two 55-gallon water barrels but left with his guests, he said.
Tohono O'odham Chairman Ned Norris Jr. confirmed Tuesday that Baboquivari District leaders asked Wilson and his guests to leave, but he said he has no knowledge of the request to remove the water station.
Phone calls to Harvey requesting comment were not returned.
The tribe has a standing decision not to allow humanitarian groups to place water on the reservation. Norris, who became chairman after that decision was made, has said the decision falls to the reservation's 11 districts because it's a matter of local concern. He said the same thing about the reported decision to ask Wilson and his guests to leave on Saturday.
"The tribal constitution authorizes each district to govern themselves on issues of local concern," Norris said.
"This, in their view, is an issue of local concern."
Wilson gave the following account of Saturday's events:
Early that morning, Wilson and the group were at one of his water stations east of the village of Topawa on Federal Route 10, commonly known as Fresnal Canyon Road. He was talking about the history of his work in maintaining the water stations to eight seminary students from Denver, their professor and two retired Tucson pastors, the Rev. John Fife and the Rev. Gene Lefebvre.
A tribal police officer drove up to the group and told Wilson that she had received a complaint about non-tribal members being in the Baboquivari District. She told him that the Baboquivari District is a restricted district, which means O'odham are required to notify the board and get permission before bringing in any non-tribal guests, the officer said.
Wilson said he had never heard of the rule.
Continue reading the article by Brady McCombs in the Arizona Daily Star