This mural made me do a double take, and also made me realize how little I know about the Tohono O’Odham people and their reservation; this in spite of living in nearby Tucson for four years (back when they were known as the Papago). So I did a bit of research online to see what this divided nation issue was all about. The Tohono O’odham have lived for centuries in what is now Arizona as well as northern New Mexico. Since the Gadsden Purchase in 1853, their lands and people have been divided by the international border between the U.S. and Mexico causing a major disruption to their way of life. According to their website
Long before there was a border, tribal members traveled back
and forth to visit family, participate in cultural and religious
events, and many other practices. For these reasons and many
others, the Nation has opposed fortified walls on the border for
While they oppose barriers on the border, the Tohono O’odham have partnered with federal law enforcement agencies (e.g. ICE and DHS) on other strategies to increase border security. These efforts have produced an 84% reduction in undocumented migrant apprehensions on their lands in just over a decade. In spite of this success, Trump’s needless, ineffective, and disruptive border wall is currently under construction on reservation land.