Tribal members opposing border wall protest at McCain's Tucson office

Published: Mar. 23, 2017 at 5:20 PM MST|Updated: Mar. 2, 2018 at 11:13 AM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - For the first time, the Tohono O'odham Nation is taking a public stance against the proposed border wall. They held a protest on Thursday night in front of Senator John McCain's Office on Congress Street.

The tribe said President Trump's proposed border wall would be built on 75 miles of Tohono O'odham tribal land – and they say the impact of the wall would have devastating consequences. They are demanding that Senator John McCain listen to their concerns.
Lining the sidewalk of Congress Street, more than 100 protesters waved signs and flags standing in solidarity with the Tohono O'odham Nation - who do not want any part of the border wall on their land.
"It's a violation and it's also disrespecting us," Protester and tribal member Thomasa Rivas said.

Rivas, has family buried in a small village in Mexico and often crosses the border to visit the grave site. She is worried about the wall stopping Tohono O'odham from continuing their cultural practices and holding religious ceremonies across the border.

"If you couldn't visit your family – how would you feel? That's how we take it," Revis said.
Allies of the tribe said the wall would also impact wildlife migration on the reservation.
"There's migratory animals that cross, they go north they go south and they won't be able to anymore with a wall," Protester, Kristen Randall said. 
Other community members at the protest felt compassion to write a personal letter to Senator McCain, as he represents the tribal members in Congress.
"Separating their nation, basically – one part from another is totally unfair," Protester, Mary Schaffer said. 
"It basically puts up a sign that says, we don't accept people when we're supposed to be a country full of, well we are a country full of immigrants," protester, Brady Russell said."People who live on that reservation have family on both sides and the wall absolutely separate them from their own families – that's absurd." 
Senator McCain has not taken a formal stance in support or opposition to the wall. McCain is currently in Washington D.C. His staff did meet with a few of the Tohono O'odham tribal members in McCain's office.

A spokeswoman with the McCain staff told Tucson News Now that they will "ensure the senator is fully briefed on their concerns."

Copyright 2017 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.

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