Native American Heritage Sites Sacrificed to Build Wall


The General Accounting Office released a 72 page report, that stated that under the Trump administration, sacred Native American sites were irreparably damaged with the construction of the wall between the United States and Mexico. 

The report stated the damage included killing plants like the iconic saguaro cactus that were in the path of the wall and dynamiting Monument Hill, disturbing burial sites of Apache and O’odham ancestors and destroying land that was used by the Tohono O’odham for religious ceremonies. Crews disrupted Quitobaquito Springs, a desert oasis in the Sonoran Desert, and depleted groundwater supplies near the San Pedro River by drilling wells for water for construction.

The wall itself blocked access for all but the smallest animals in the region, including some that are threatened species. Lights on the finished sections of the wall – and the report said only 69 miles were completely finished, by the time Trump left office,  disrupted behavior of animals in the area.

A sacred site was "irreparably damaged" in Arizona when contractors used explosives to clear a path to expand an existing patrol road, the report said, citing Tohono O’odham Nation officials.

Workers also left behind roads and hillsides that were not protected from erosion. Silt from a construction staging area near the top of a mountain in the Pajarito Mountains is filling a pond in the Coronado National Forest, threatening a vital water source for cattle and wildlife.

Much of the erosion was observed by the GAO adjacent to the border wall along patrol roads where contractors did not complete installing culverts and other erosion control. The report said that in multiple locations erosion is so serious that is “threatening the integrity of the barrier system.”

Former President Donald Trump campaigned on a promise to build a wall on the border with Mexico, and ordered the work to begin as soon as he took office in 2017. Two years later, he declared a national emergency that ordered the Pentagon to assist in the project, directed Defense Department toward the wall and allowed agencies to waive environmental and other regulation as necessary to speed construction. He agreed to suspend environmental laws and regulations regarding sacred sites in order to get it built. 

The report by the Government Accountability Office, “Southwest Border: Additional Actions Needed to Address Cultural and Natural Resource Impacts from Barrier Construction,” was prepared at the request of U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Arizona, who is ranking member of the House Natural Resource Committee.

A copy of the report can be found via the link below: 

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