Lipan Apache Women Defense announced Dec. 23 delivery of a letter to President-elect Barack Obama urging him to halt construction of the border wall, stop the illegal seizures of border communities’ properties, and to uphold and respect the rights of indigenous people. The letter from the border community of El Calaboz Ranchería, Texas, was delivered to the co-chair of Obama’s Interior Department transition team, Robert Anderson (Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, Bois Forte Band), director of the Native American Law Center at the University of Washington. The letter requests the incoming administration review the Homeland Security Department’s “unlawful” use of condemnation proceedings against indigenous peoples’ lands. It calls for a “community-based partnership with the new Obama-Biden administration to transform the US’s relationship with Indigenous peoples.”
Margo Tamez, co-founder of the Lipan Apache Women Defense, declared: “We are invoking the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, US federal laws, and Texas state laws which have been fought for by citizens of the US in order to protect the people and the nation from violent aggressors against sovereignty.”
In December 2007, the DHS/Secure Border Initiative announced construction of the border wall on the lands of El Calaboz Ranchería in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. Protests and legal challenges were brought by Lipan Apache elders led by Eloisa García Támez, who cited impacts on the community’s lands, burial sites, archaeological resources, botanical and medicinal riparian zones, and pastoral way of life which is dependent upon subsistence cattle and goat herding.
One year later, approximately 80 landowners continue to litigate their ancestral land claims along the Texas-Mexico border. Some of the claims, such as those of Eloisa García Támez, actually pre-date the United States as a sovereign nation. (Lipan Apache Women Defense, Dec. 23, via e-mail)
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