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From Censored News Ofelia Rivas to Nat’l Guard

September 20, 2010

Originally posted August 29,2010

By Ofelia Rivas

O’odham to National Guard: “We do not want you on our lands”

Ofelia Rivas, traditional O’odham living on the border, released a
statement to the National Guard, who are to arrive on the US/Mexico
border in Arizona on Monday.

To the United States National Guard arriving in O’odham Lands,

We are not compliant people, we are people with great dignity and
confidence. We are a people of endurance and have a long survival
history. We are people that have lived here for thousands of years. We
have our own language, we have our own culture and traditions.

You are coming to my land, you may find me walking on my land, sitting
on my land and just going about my daily life. I might be sitting on
the mountain top, do not disturb me, I am praying the way my ancestors
did for thousands of years. I might be out collecting what may be
strange to you but it might be food to me or medicine for me.

Sometimes I am going to the city to get a burger or watch a movie or
just to resupply my kitchen and refrigerator. Some of us live very
much like you do and some of us live very simple lives. Some of may
not have computers or scanners or televisions or a vehicle but some of
us do.

The other thing is that some of us are light-skinned O’odham and some
of us are darker-skinned O’odham. Some of us spend a lot of time
indoors or outdoors. Sometimes my mother might be of a different
Nation (refers to different tribal Nation) or sometimes our father is
Spanish or we may have some European grandmother or grandfather.

If you want to question who we are, we all have learned to carry our
Tohono O’odham Nation Tribal I.D. Card. It is a federally-issued card
which is recognized by the federal government which is your boss. This
card identifies us and by law this is the only requirement needed to
prove who we are. We do not have United States passports because most
of us were born at home and do not have documents, but that does not
make us “undocumented people.” Your boss, the Department of Homeland
Security, and the government of the Tohono O’odham Nation have
negotiated an agreement which is, our tribal I.D. card is our
identification card and no other document is required.

The O’odham, (the People) as we call ourselves, have been here to
witness the eruption of volcanoes that formed the lands we live on. We
have special places that hold our great-great-great-great-great great
grandparents remains, our lands are a special and holy place to us.
Some of us still make journeys to these places to pray. Some of these
places hold holy objects that maintain specific parts of our beliefs.
When you see us out on the land do not assume we are in the drug
business or human smuggling business. Sometimes we are out on the land
hunting for rabbits or deer or javalina to feed our families. We may
be carrying a hunting weapon please do not harm me, my family loves me
and depends on me.
When you are out on our land, be mindful that you are visitor on our
lands, be respectful, be courteous and do not harm anything.

Sometimes you may see us gather all night long, dancing and sometimes
we are crying loudly, do not approach us or disturb us in anyway, we
are honoring a dead relative and preparing them for burial. Sometimes
we are conducting a healing ceremony out on the land, do not approach
us or disturb us. Sometimes we may be singing and dancing all night
long, these are our ceremonies that we have conducted for thousands of
years. We are not behaving in a suspicious nature, this is our way of

As original people of the lands we honor everything on our lands and
we regard all as a part of our sacred lives, do not kill any plants
and animals or people on our lands. Do not litter our lands with your
trash. When we visit other peoples lands and cities and homes we do
not litter or leave behind trash.

We might be driving our cars, sometimes old, sometimes very new, do
not try to run us off the roads or tailgate me. I value my life and my
family, I might have a newborn in my car or my grandmother or my
mother and father, my brothers and sister or my aunts and uncles or my
friends. These are all important people to me and I do not want to see
them hurt or dead.

If I seem like I do not understand what you are saying, please call
the Tohono O’odham Police and ask for an O’odham speaking officer to
come and assist you. I might be laughing at you if you talk to me in
English, I don’t know what you are saying and I am laughing out of
nervousness and fear because you are armed.

If you are afraid of us and draw your weapons on me, I am more afraid
of you because I am unarmed and my family is in the vehicle with me or
they are in my house when you come into my house. Sometimes my house
might be in poor condition but it is my home, it is my sanctuary, be
respectful. Sometime there are elders in my house that are already
afraid of armed people in our communities such as the border patrol
and other federal agents.

There are some people that do drug business or human smuggling
business but we are not all doing that, we are not all criminals. Do
not treat us like criminals.

We might call you killers and murderers as you just came from killing
people. To the O’odham you are a dangerous person, to walk onto our
lands bringing fresh death on your person is very destructive to us as
a people. You may have diseases we do not know, illnesses of your mind
that you might inflict on us. Please do not approach us if you are
afflicted with fresh death.

Remember we do not want you on our lands, we did not invite you to our

Do remember that we have invited allies that will be witnessing your
conduct on our lands and how you treat our people.

From the the O’odham Lands
Ofelia Rivas

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