El Calaboz, Lower Rio Grande Valley, TX
December 18, 2009A year ago… the hostile enforcement policies of the US DHS/Secure Border Initiative against ancient border communities came to the foreground in landmark struggles on the Texas-Mexico border. The construction of the border wall through the middle of ancient, Rio Grande communities, forced Eloisa Garcia Tamez, (Lipan Apache), and community elders of El Calaboz Rancheria, as well as numerous poor Native land owners along the Rio Grande to stop the U.S. DHS from taking the community’s lands, ancient burials, archaeological resources, botanical and medicinal riparian zones, and their pastoral ways of life dependent upon cattle, grazing rights, water rights and Indigenous Peoples’ communal lifeways. The conflict raised constitutional, civil, and human rights in the face of intensified government force to pressure the community in numeros ways to surrender their lands.
Along the way… a robust independent media, and grass-roots network exposed deep corruption among local elites, scandal, and repressive government regimes managing the dispossession of the region’s poor Indigenous Peoples and persons along the Rio Grande’s banks.
One year later…approximately eighty landowners continue to litigate their ancestral and communal land claims along the Texas-Mexico border. Success is measured in Chertoff’s failures to wall in the resisting communities. Their firm resistances–based in living their daily lives and developing new strategies borrowed from older generations, from coalitions with like-minded grass roots Indigneous persons and groups; and working with allied media, law, grassroots, NGO’s, nonprofits, faith-based communities, immigrant rights communities has enlarged the capacity of the prayer. Resistance and ceremony take on new meanings as the struggle continues.
Faith v. Greed…The new layer of corruption, beyond ‘holes in the wall’, is ‘rigged jury system’ and ‘corrupt appraiser racket’, whereby the U.S. and local industry leaders have attempted to shut out any possibility of a fair jury trial for litigants. ‘Not on my shift’, is fundamentally the message issued from Judge Hanen, in a ruling yesterday. Empaneled jurors will prevail, at least, as long as the resistance to oppressive government and industries continues.
Some of the land claims, such as Eloisa Garcia Tamez’, pre-date the United States as a sovereign nation, and are directly connected to Lipan Apache (Nde’) peoples’ struggles against forced colonization and dispossession by Spain, Texas, Mexico and the U.S. The Indigenous Peoples rights to exist as self-determining communities is gaining traction, in a region with a history of slavery, Jim Crow, hacendado culture, and harsh repression. In the face of increasing public criticism of the border wall, and claims of human rights violations before the Inter-American Commission/OAS, Indigenous Peoples are reframing and redefining the border wall conflict. We are organizing our networks around a framework of ‘Indigenous Peoples & Principles.’