We’ve heard time and time again about Donald Trump‘s proposed wall between the U.S. and Mexico and why it’s a terrible idea. But there’s one potential obstacle the president-elect seems not to have noticed: a Native American reservation the size of Connecticut, located directly in the path of his proposed construction.
The Tohono O’odham Nation has existed for thousands of years, straddling the line between the land that is now the U.S. and Mexico. The 75-mile stretch of land in southern Arizona has already been cut in half by a steel fence and border patrol agents, but the tribe’s leaders have warned that if Trump attempts to build his wall, they would refuse to allow it to cut through their land.
Their reasons are many: The wall, they say, could be devastating for local animals and wildlife, cutting off the water that flows across the border. It would also block tribe members from accessing and caring for sacred burial sites in Mexico, a task already complicated by the border fence. And while 28,000 O’odham tribe members make their homes on the U.S. side of the border, there are still nine communities within Mexico.
In recent decades, increasing border security has taken a toll on the O’odham way of life. While decades ago, a barbed wire fence was the only barrier across the border, tribe members could move across the land with relative freedom. But in 2006, Congress passed the Secure Fence Act, which lined the borders with checkpoints and more secure fencing.
Initially, the reaction was positive — tribe members believed the checkpoints would help prevent drug cartels from crossing the reservation illegally. However, in the past ten years, they say it’s become increasingly militarized and now directly challenges their way of life.
While it may seem reasonable to have the tribe members produce identification and…