‘Att Hascu ‘Am O ‘I-oi? What Direction Should We Take?: The Desert People's Approach to the Militarization of the Border


Tohono O’odham means the people of the desert. For the Tohono O’odham, the Sonoran desert is their jewedga, their homeland. It is here that they have lived in peace from time immemorial, where their sacred places are located, where their crops are grown and plants collected, where their people are born and pass away. When the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo was made, and later when the Gadsden Purchase occurred, the O’odham remained the O’odham, whether born in Mexico or in the United States. But in recent years war has come to the O’odham, not of their own doing, but rather as a result of the ‘drug war,’ the militarization of immigrant interdiction, and 9/11. Today the land of the Tohono O’odham is under siege, and, as a sovereign nation, they must decide what direction they should take to deal with the problems engendered by the border. The increase of federal law enforcement activity focuses on concerns about increased transportation of drugs, undocumented aliens, and terrorism access across the U.S.-Mexico Border. The Tohono O’odham have responded with attempts at legislation and changes in law and law enforcement strategies. It is these approaches that are the subject of this Essay.


Tohono O'odham Indians, Border security, Indians of North America -- Sovereignty



Eileen Luna-Firebaugh (University of Arizona)



Publication details



All rights reserved

File Checksums (MD5)

  • pdf: a67b6b8908ae38805e9605432422dccd