Kumeyaay People Halt Construction on Border Wall

Members of the Kumeyaay Nation (Ipai-Tipai-Diegueño) launched a call to defend their ancestral territory. For at least 12,000 years, they have been living in a region that expands from San Diego County in Southern California, to the Tijuana-Mexicali region and La Huerta-Agua Sorceress on the Mexican side. They have been around for at least 600 generations!

What is threatening their territory and the more than 500 animal species that move throughout the region? A cross-border wall that the current US federal administration pretends to build. For centuries, the Kumeyaay Nation has made a ritual journey throughout its ancestral territory: they are a proud trilingual people who speak Kumiai and the languages of the colonizers, Spanish and English, who have fought each other for control of nonexistent borders. The US Army Corps of Engineers have been using explosives to build the wall, causing irreparable damage on the Kumeyaay people’s sacred sites.

Tribal leaders convinced the Border Patrol to allow a ceremonial prayer at the site. About 100 people marched to the site, led by the elderly and children and since then have continued to monitor the work that they consider illegal on sacred land. The Kumeyaak are defending their sacred sites places with ample evidence of archaeological remains (documented by various academic and governmental reports), as well as shielded by a legal frame that protects them, based on treaties signed by the Kumeyaay Nation in 1831, ratified in 1987, and by executive order in 1998, that support their sovereignty rights.

La Frontera nos divide. Foto: Kumeyaay Protest Against Trumps Wall
The Border does not divide us. Photo: Kumeyaay Protest Against Trumps Wall

This protest has been growing in numbers and intensity since late June. The daily blocking of border wall construction sites, as well as the supply of construction materials, and the flow of vehicles in the area, has helped them to gain momentum and give time for legal measures that, hopefully, will definitely cease the wall’s construction.

Members of the Kumeyaay Nation are risking their lives daily, in the midst of the pandemic, to avoid the loss of their ancestral heritage, as well as the separation of families, the desecration of sacred sites, the threat of extinction of migratory animal species, and the breaking of the treaties as the legal basis of their struggle.

Kumeyaay Original Peoples Alliance, American Indian Movement, and Warriors of Awareness have participated in solidarity with this fight, supported by the Black Lives Matter movement and the American Friends Service Committee, among others. Below we reproduce Kumeyaay Nation’s list of demands, as posted on their social media:

We need to change now, for our people and for future generations.

  • The immediate halt of construction of the border wall on Kumeyaay land
  • For Kumeyaay Nation sovereignty be respected, and upheld in good faith
  • Lawful and just nation to nation consultation from with compensation
  • Soil testing be done in all areas of construction for the wall
  • Native Monitors be present at all times in future construction sites
  • A change of law to prevent future desecration and destruction of Native land for time immemorial to come