Tribal leader: Work to build border wall hurts sacred land

Native American leader fights back tears as he describes the pain of watching sacred land being blown up to make way for Donald Trump’s Mexico-US border wall

Native American leader spoke of pain at sacred land being destroyed for the wallConstruction crews this month began blasting and bulldozing through hills Environmental groups are also decrying the work at Monument Hill, Arizona 

A Native American leader from Arizona grew emotional as he told a congressional committee about the pain members of his tribe feel at US officials blasting through land they consider sacred to build part of President Donald Trump’s wall along the US-Mexico border.

‘No one reveres our military veterans more than the O’odham, however, dynamiting these sacred sites and burial grounds is the same as bulldozing Arlington National Cemetery or any other cemetery,’ Tohono O’odham Nation Chairman Ned Norris told lawmakers in Washington on Wednesday.

His testimony came hours after the government carried out a new round of explosions near the southern border as a group of invited journalists watched. 

Construction crews this month began blasting and bulldozing through hills to build a 30-foot (9-meter) steel wall 60 feet wide (18 meters wide) in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument.

Tohono O’odham Nation Chairman Ned Norris (pictured) told a congressional committee about the pain members of his tribe feel at US officials blasting through land they consider sacred to build part of President Donald Trump’s wall along the US-Mexico border

Construction crew perform a controlled detonation at the base of Monument Hill in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument west of Lukeville, Arizona, on Wednesday

Construction crew perform a controlled detonation at the base of Monument Hill in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument west of Lukeville, Arizona, on Wednesday

Environmental groups also are decrying the work at the national parks system site that’s named for its cactuses resembling organ pipes and is a largely untouched example of Sonoran Desert habitat.

‘It’s hard to see the blasting that you showed on the video today because I know in my heart what our elders have told us: that it is home to our ancestors,’ Norris said, choking up.

The administration says archaeological monitors working with Customs and Border Protection and the Army Corps of Engineers have found no sign of burial or other sacred sites in the area. Department of Homeland Security acting Secretary Chad F. Wolf told Congress on Tuesday that he plans to travel soon to meet with the tribe to discuss their concerns.



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