Border wall construction blasts through to make room

Border wall construction on Tohono O'Odham reservation

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - A 250 foot stretch of land was detonated with more than 400 pounds of explosives Wednesday along the border wall construction in Lukeville.

Organ Pipe National Monument—home of saguaro and cholla, and now a fight over a wall. Border agencies Wednesday touted their construction methods along Monument Hill, detonating explosives ten feet in the ground.

This detonation one of many, and the fifth near Lukeville, as construction continues on the wall, stretching into what Tohono O’odham Nation leaders call a sacred space.

“it’s like going to your grandmother’s gravesite…. and blowing it up, and saying we ought to build a wall through it,” said Vana Lewis, a member of the Tohono O’odham Nation.

A mile from where the wall is being built, Lewis lines up with other protesters, chanting “no border wall.” As a member of the Nation, she said these lands, specifically Monument Hill, where the explosions were, are sacred burial grounds.

The same day, only hours late, Ned Norris, Chairman of the Tohono O’odham Nation spoke to members of the House, addressing concerns over construction.

“The federal government’s continued destruction of our religious and cultural resources, and nothing less but bull dozing of our church grounds and our cemeteries. For us, this is no different from DHS building a 30 foot wall along Arlington Cemetery or through the grounds of the National Cathedral,” he said. “CBP says they have worked with tribal communities and understand that some areas of federal land are considered historically significant, and have worked with the national park service to scour the land from the border wall to a 100 feet out, looking for “culturally significant objects.”

CPB said they have spoken with the Nation and searched the construction area for culturally significant objects.

“For us, within the project area, it’s actual tangible artifacts they can find,” said Paul Enriquez, acquisitions, real estate and environmental director for construction of the border wall. “Within the project zone, particularly Monument Hill, we haven’t identified any of those things.”

“Just because you don’t see something doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist,” said Lewis.

Remains believed to be human were found about 10 miles away near the Quitobaquito Spring. Construction pushes on—with many more miles to go…certainly an explosive topic for as long as it does.

CBP says they have built nine out of the 43 miles planned in that area. The new wall will be double the height of the existing one, at 30 feet high.

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