Friday, April 24, 2009


Your support is very important to the critical examination of the U.S. law system as it pertains to indigenous peoples whose customary and traditional lands are within the U.S. political boundaries, and at U.S. international borders.

Thanks to all who have been holding vigils for the Benavidez and Tamez extended clans on the El Calaboz side, and the Premont and Redford sides of the impacted families. Ahe'he'e to all the Nde' who are faithfully keeping watch.

There are too many to thank, so if you are reading this and are familiar with the efforts since 2006 of the elders of El Calaboz to retain customary and traditional rights to the lands in El Calaboz Rancheria, and you have been supporting this effort, then... at some point along the way you came to respond to this collective work even on your very busy path. You have helped us to support the wishes of the elders of El Calaboz in their legal, spiritual, political and social movement. El Calaboz Rancheria has a long and consistent history of indigenous peoples taking up issues of injustice, and the periodic rise of state violence in their lands.

Even if not directly, your work is making a difference in our lives and in the steady progress of this case--in the United States and in the international spheres.

The last 36 hours have been tough, grueling, as well as full of revelations, as they were back in 2006, when the government armed personnel attempted to take possession of customary and traditional lands along the last 70 miles of the Texas-Mexico border through the use of armed force and intimidation of the elders.

This was the famous 'waiver' period--when the Customs Border Patrol and DHS agents attempted to force community members to surrender their lands on the spot using a piece of paper, and forcing them to sign--in violation of constitutional and international law.

The last 24 hours has been focused on a temporary restraining order, the Judge's response to that order, and preparing the affected landowners (TAMEZ, BENAVIDES, et al)due to the fact that the United States, in direct violation of the condemnation and possessionorder, plowed ahead and built the wall on our elders' lands.

The Garcia, Cavazos and the Benavides lands are traditionally used for pastoralist goat and cattle herding, subsistence only, by the families also known as 'originarios'--First Peoples.

The wall went up in approximately 24 hours on both Garcia/Cavazos lands (Eloisa Garcia Tamez) and the Benavidez lands. Please reference Kevin Sieff's story in the Brownsville Herald.

As we continue to demand that the United States adhere to Judge Hanen's order to consult the families prior to building the wall (NOT a mute point), we are also looking ahead to the still-scheduled jury trial in October on the issues of compensation. Please recall that the United States government argues that the impact to the future generations of this possession and condemnation is $5000.

After the jury trial in October, we will then pick up the process of the 5th Circuit appeal, which will be led again by our attorney, Peter Schey (Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law) who on a conference call yesterday, faithfully committed to our elders to continue to challenge the gross violations of the constitution and civil rights.

One step at a time...this morning will be a challenge for effected landowners of the traditional and customary rancheria of El Calaboz. They are being represented by civil rights attorney, Corinna Spencer-Scheurich,a Texas attorney, who is standing in for the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law, who could not be present at the hearing on consultation violations, called less than 24 hours ago.

The last 36 hours and the work products which we completed and compiled to educate the government about 'consultation' for our community ("Consultation...", Temporary Restraining Order, Research Poster, Briefing on Indigenous Peoples by UT Law Working Group, and other supporting docs ) could not have come to existence without the tireless work of the following individuals: Attorneys Peter Schey and Chris Scherer; Dr. Jeff Sheperd--UT El Paso; Professor of Law, Denise Gilman, UT-Austin; Lipan Apache Band of Texas, Council Chair, Daniel Castro Romero, Jr.; Dr. Enrique Maestas; Erik K. Hrabovsky, and of course, the Benavidez elders and Dr. Eloisa Garcia Tamez.

Dagotee' gozhoole' (Beauty all around...)
Margo Tamez
Co-Founder, Lipan Apache Women Defense


US seizes Tamez/Lipan Apache lands on the Texas-Mexico border for border wall
By Brenda Norrell
EL CALABOZ, Texas --

With the hope of change evaporating during the Obama Administration, a federal judge ruled that Homeland Security can seize the Tamez family land. After a court battle, with an alert to the international community, the Tamez family said a federal judge condemned the Lipan Apache family land for the US/Mexico border wall.

"A federal judge in Brownsville, Texas issued an order today granting the federal government's request to condemn the ancestral land of the Tamez Family, who are Lipan Apaches," the Tamez family said April 16. "Although this land has been in the Tamez family prior to the Spanish colonization, and also designated to them through Spanish Crown law (1767, as of today, it is in the possession of the United States Department of Homeland Security.""The landowner, Eloisa Tamez, heard about Judge Hanen's order while participating in the Western Social Sciences Association Conference in Albuquerque, where she was participating in a Three part panel: 'Indigenous People's and the U.S.-Mexico Border: Militarization, Resistance, and Rights.' She is with a group of colleagues from several bi-national Indigenous Border communities and experts on militarization and the impact of the border wall," the Tamez family said in a statement.

The seizure of the Tamez family land raises new questions about the actual intent of the US government as it acquires private property from California to Texas for the border wall. The US covert scheme to acquire borderlands includes seizing private land and seizing the use of American Indian lands, such as Tohono O'odham land in Arizona, for the border wall corridor.
The land seizures were facilitated by the fear created by 9/11, then fueled by immigrant racism and xenophobia on television news and finally accelerated by the so-called drug war in northern Mexico. However, more questions are now being raised regarding the covert US government's role in the drug and weapons trafficking in the borderzone. The Zetas, the most notorious murderers, were trained as US Special Forces, while the US appetite for drugs provides the demand. The weapons also come from the US.

Meanwhile, in Texas, the Tamez family reports that this is an urgent situation which needs international attention and wide press coverage.

An interview with Eloisa Tamez, by Ansel Herz, is here.

Excerpt: "Mediahacker: I know that you met Barack Obama while he was campaigning. Have you seen any changes in terms of DHS policy since his taking office and do you hold out any hope that him and the new Homeland Security Secretary will change plans at all?
Tamez: I see no change. I’ve seen no comment on it. I don’t know what the plans are, because, well, they haven’t said much. So I’m still wondering what we’re going to see. And I still remember that he voted for the wall when he was a Senator. He voted for it ..."