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Global INdigenous Council's position on borders

Our ancestors forged economic and diplomatic relations with tribal nations on international trade routes, which is a blueprint GIC will strive to revitalize. To create, infuse, and sustain tribal economies, GIC seeks to redefine our perceptions of the US-Canada and US-Mexico borders, as well as borders internationally that have and continue to inflict familial, cultural and economic harms upon tribal people. Chairman Edward Manuel of the Tohono O’odham Nation has called the US-Mexico border “an artificial barrier to the freedom of the Tohono O’odham,” a description that can be applied to multiple tribal nations confronted by similar circumstances across the globe.


If we continue to recognize borders as major obstacles, trade relationships between our nations will not flourish, and, on this continent, our ability to secure any participation in wider North American trade agreements will be non-existent. Our economic stability cannot wait. We require no mandate other than to follow our ancestors’ philosophy within the geopolitical sphere that existed for generations before the borders.


GIC will support tribal nations that straddle both sides of the southern border that have been, from time immemorial, one nation, but through colonial imposition, have been divided. The enduring hardships from imposed severance and separation will be exacerbated by the threatened construction of the Trump Administration’s “wall” which GIC will actively oppose. GIC will be steadfast in insisting that Free Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) is adhered to in all instances, including all and any attempts by the Trump Administration to construct the “wall” on tribal lands. FPIC must be honored to establish initial grassroots participation in the process, continuing through to the governmental level, with all traditional and elected administrative strata engaged to fulfill consultation protocols with indigenous populations prior to the onset of a project on ancestral, sacred, and treaty lands, or the exploitation of resources within a tribal nation’s territory.


Even without the “wall,” members of the Tohono O’odham Nation are routinely detained by the U.S. Border Patrol and, on occasion, deported. The tribe states that many of  those, “we’re simply traveling through their own traditional lands, practicing migratory traditions essential to their religion, economy and culture. Border officials are also reported to confiscate cultural and religious items, such as feathers of common birds, pine leaves or sweet grass.”

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