Saturday, October 4, 2008

Imaginary Borders - Verse 4

In verse 4 we drove to the border town of Sells on O'odham land to meet with Ofelia Rivas of O'odham solidarity project.

The presence of the border patrol could be felt like a thick web. Installed behind plump saguaro's, angled high atop hills, the steel of their patrol vehicles glinted in the sun, almost benignly restful but I learned them to be capable of lashing out unforgiving violence - as they did with Angelita Reino Ramon's son. The border patrol murdered her son, running him over several times. She shared her story and the pain her family has gone through to seek justice.

We learned of ongoing harassment of O'odham by the border police, and of Ofelia's own experience with harassment, no doubt a result of her activism. Ofelia formed the O'odham Solidarity Project to raise awareness about the Department of Homeland Security's plans to build a wall across the Arizona/Mexico border that will cut through Tohono O'odham land, restricting access to family and creating a barrier to maintaining their traditional culture. In july 2009 tribal enrollment cards will no longer be accepted at the border. The O'odham will need a passport, and since many do not have birth certificates, I'm not sure how or if they could get a passport to take part in ceremony at Quitovac, Mexico where they gather annually.

I left the meeting with an argument in my head. Should I cry or get angry? I decided to get angry, but that wasn't the end of the emotion. Where do I put the anger? What use is the anger? Anger is dwarfed without action. So I will act. What will I do? What will I do?

It's a humbling thought that comes at me again and again in this day. As the war in Iraq blazes, as a walk through the city is a reminder of those left behind by our system, as the environment is polluted and the animals we share the earth with go extinct, I think, what can I do.

I always come back full circle - become the best version of you, that you can possibly be. Choose your goals, your cause to work for in this life and live every moment in the present. To honor Ofelia and the rest that I have met on this trip I will do my very best.

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