April 17, 2019

12:10 pm - 1:00 pm, Eastern Time

The Border Wall and the Tohono O’odham Nation

Baker 116, New Haven, CT

Please join the Native American Law Students Association, the Yale Environmental Law Association, the Yale Law National Security Group, and the American Constitution Society this Wednesday for a videoconference lunch event on the impact of the current border fence—and the possible border wall—on the Tohono O’odham Nation, a Native American tribe bisected by the U.S.-Mexico border.


The Tohono O’odham Nation is the second-largest by land (roughly the size of Connecticut), and its members are split between Arizona and the Mexican state of Sonora. The existing border fence impedes tribal members’ travel, disrupting the Nation’s social, economic, cultural, and religious life. Many members expect that transforming the fence into a wall would exacerbate these harms. As tribal member April Hiosik Ignacio framed the issue:


"Sixty-five miles of the U.S.-Mexico border bisects the Tohono O’odham Nation, where I’ve lived my entire life, raised my children and co-founded Indivisible Tohono in response to President Trump, whose policies pose an existential threat to our nation. We are the original caretakers of this land, and our connection to it is profound. For hundreds of years predating European arrival, the men of our nation have performed the Salt Pilgrimage. Beginning on the U.S. side of our nation, these men run on foot for weeks to a remote location on the Mexico side, returning with the sacred salt used to preserve the meat we’ve hunted for millennia. The border wall stands to ruin this, the collection of medicinal plants and many hunting ceremonies that rely on land traversing the U.S.-Mexico border, not to mention its impact on animal migration. We have always known who threatens our nation, and it has never been a refugee at the border."


Our speakers will be Anthony Francisco Jr. and Pachynne Ignacio, two members of Indivisible Tohono, a grassroots group organizing around federal and state legislation that impacts the tribe. Anthony currently serves on the Tohono O’odham Nation’s Legislative Council. Before this tenure, he worked through a non-profit organization to restore traditional growing and wild harvesting practices in the community. Pachynne is an unofficial intern for Indivisible Tohono and a student at her nation’s tribal college, Tohono O'odham Community College. She is a cat mom to three black cats, Clarence, Tabitha and Fabio and hopes to become a vocational agriculture teacher for her alma mater, Baboquivari High School.