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Wed

06

Aug

2008

Border endangering Indigenous cultures and ceremonies
Wednesday, 06 August 2008 15:03
by Brenda Norrell

Jose Matus, Yaqui ceremonial leader and director of the Indigenous Alliance Without Borders/Alianza Indigena Sin Fronteras, said Homeland Security's increased border restrictions are interfering with the Yaquis ability to preserve their culture and ceremonies.

Matus, speaking at the Indigenous Environmental Network's Protecting Mother Earth Conference on Western Shoshone lands, said Yaqui in the United States are faced with the loss of their language, Hiaki. The declining number of Yaquis speaking the language is affecting the Yaquis ability to maintain their ceremonies.

Matus said one of the ways Yaqui maintain their ceremonies is by bringing in Yaqui from Mexico who are well-versed in the Yaqui language, knowledge and ceremonies.

Following the request of Yaqui elders in 1973, Matus began his 35-year effort to maintain the Yaqui ceremonies in the US by bringing in Yaqui ceremonial leaders from Sonora, Mexico, for temporary stays for ceremonies.

However, in recent years, the increased restrictions by Homeland Security and racist attitudes and migrant xenophobia in the US has resulted in increased legal obstacles.

"Now, Homeland Security is getting very, very strict," Matus told the gathering of more than 700 people from the Americas on Western Shoshone land at South Fork, Nevada, July 17 -- 20, 2008.

Matus said that earlier he was able to work with border officials to get ceremonial leaders across the Southwest borders. "As time went goes by, legislation changes and attitudes change, including the anti-immigrant hysteria."

Matus said the fight against terrorism created more obstacles. "That has created more obstacles. That has affected all the people who have relatives in Mexico."

The Indigenous Alliance Without Borders is now working Akimel O'otham in Gila River, Arizona, some O'odham in Mexico, Raramuri/Tarahumara in Mexico, the Yaqui Nation in Arizona and other Indigenous Peoples whose rights are being violated by border rules and border wall construction.

The Indigenous Alliance Without Borders was created in 1997 in response to harassment of Indigenous Peoples crossing the border. Border agents were violating and destroying ceremonial items and frightening and intimidating women, children and elders.

"We have tried to set up permanent border crossing rights for the Yaqui, Gila River Pima and Raramuri." Matus said the alliance recently began working with Tewa from El Paso, Texas, where the border wall construction is now destroying cultural rights and sacred places.

"The wall itself is a lethal weapon that the US government is using to kill thousands of undocumented crossers."

Matus said the border wall is destroying the environment, sacred sites and the connection between relatives in Mexico and the United States.

"Now they are destroying and dividing the Tewa and Kumeyaay ceremonial grounds," he said of the Tewa in the region of El Paso, Texas, and Kumeyaay, in California and Baja, Mexico.

Matus said the alliance is examining possible legislation to ensure border crossing rights. However, he said Indian Nation governments need to support border crossing rights in order for legislation to pass in the United States. At the same time, the United States government is intimidating tribes to prevent them from exercising their rights at the border.

"We are all terrorists as far as they are concerned. They put us through all these obstacles as we try to cross that border," Matus said.

While Indigenous Peoples are attempting to maintain their culture and ceremonies, they are unjustly targeted.

"For national security reasons, we can not bring our elders across the border for ceremonies," Matus said.
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Comments (4)add comment

bigdong said:

0
ok
matus continues his lies. come'on matus lets hear you say it "viva aztlan'
 
August 06, 2008
Votes: -1

Been there said:

0
How?
How is the wall killing people? I just don't get it. Don't most Indians die from Alcohol abuse? Don't most illegal aliens who do die, die in the desert no where near the fence from dehydration? At least that is what I see.
 
August 08, 2008
Votes: -1

big dong said:

0
say "what" again...! I dare you!!
most indians dont die specifically from alcohol abuse, but like any population, you could infer a percentage from data collected. Just like white, black or asian, or anyone; you could assign a number that would represent some amount of said population. eh..big deal.

2nd statement: re:illegals...some do die but not from the fence. when they cross, they usually are given some meth or speed, coke what ever and what have you, by their fellow compatriot mexican
( I refuse to call them coyotes, that is a mexican use term, which is offensive to me as a Native, who HONORS the coyote as a animal spirit power.))
(( call them what they, the smugglers are: filthy dirty colonialist murderers/smugglers.)
)so they die, and are left to rot, so you could say there own compatiot mexicano has killed them, not the border or the USA. other illegals aare killed by other mexicans in the USA by gang violence/terrorism, drug abuse/use, and general overvall culture of vilolence and murder.
( We Native people have been a witness to these conditions for over 500 years now..)
..

matus you are a joke. and exploiter of the People.
 
August 08, 2008
Votes: -1

proud Arizonan said:

0
correction.
Jose Matus is a good, decent man. He has gained nothing from his tireless efforts to assist religious leaders to continue to cross into the traditional territories of their peoples, as they did for millenia before the border divided their homelands. If you are implying that through this unpaid and generally unrecognized advocacy he has somehow become wealthy, you should provide more information if you wish for anyone to take your comment seriously.
 
August 18, 2008
Votes: +1

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