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Nde’ Cultural Survival

El Calaboz Ranchería
Lower Rio Grande Valley
Texas-M exico International Border
Eloisa García Támez M argo Tamez
Co-Founders

December 20, 2008

Office of the President-Elect Barack Obama


Mr. John Podesta
Transition Project Co-Chair

Delivered To: Professor Robert Anderson


Co-Chair, Interior Department Transition Team
Director University of Washington School of Law
Native American Law Center

CC: Keith Harper


Team Lead, Interior Department Transition Team
Kilpatrick Stockton L.L.P.
607 14th Street, NW, Suite 900
Washington, D.C. 20005-2018

Dear President-Elect Obama,

The undersigned Indigenous Peoples, organizations and leaders representing and supporting binational,
impacted communities along the Texas-Mexico border unite in a shared statement urging you to halt the
construction of the U.S.-Mexico border wall as an early priority in your new administration. Though cast as a
homeland security issue, we maintain that prioritizing the administrative review of the Department of
Homeland Security’s utilization of Condemnation Proceedings and the fast-track Declaration of Taking Act
(DTA) against Indigenous Peoples’ border lands is a critical issue for our social, economic, and political
security and for our human rights. We believe your review will re-direct the nation’s focus to the un-
democratic and unilateral waivers of 35 federal laws, treaty sovereignty and human rights violations being
carried out against Indigenous Peoples.
We believe in the vast transformative influence of your new administration, manifested in the commitments you
made to Indigenous communities during the 2008 Presidential Campaign and during your transition process.
We believe that under your leadership, the U.S. has the potential to be a human rights leader. Through your
administration the U.S. could take the lead in advocacy and advancements of human rights globally. The
Obama-Biden Administration is uniquely positioned to steward and champion Indigenous peoples’ issues at
home and abroad.

From the traditional communities of the Lower Rio Grande Valley, we urge you to suspend the construction of
the border wall, and the unlawful use of the Declaration of Taking Act to seize border properties.

We comprise the border’s base and foundation-families, women, children, workers, veterans, and our elders.
As binational Indigenous Peoples along the U.S. international border, we hold a deep-seated belief that
effective partnerships between our local leaders-such as Lipan Apache elder Eloisa García Támez and river-
based people from the Lower Rio Grande-and the Obama-Biden administration can transform the course of our
Nation’s relationship with Indigenous communities. Honoring treaties, agreements, land grants, and other legal
mechanisms between the U.S. and Indigenous peoples will strengthen the Obama administration’s relationship
with diverse, binational, border communities.

We call on your administration to break away from the denial of both civil and human rights of Indigenous
Peoples. We urge you to endorse and sign the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples,
(UNDRIP) and to confirm the rights of Indigenous persons and peoples as a key framework for your domestic
and international policy.

To ensure security, peace and prosperity for Indigenous peoples of the Texas-Mexico border region, as well as
all Indigenous communities of the southern border, we are urging the Obama-Biden Transition Team to commit
to the following in healing our communities:

1.) A Summit between President-Elect Barack Obama and the Indigenous community elders, legal experts,
and consultants who lead our federal and international law cases to suspend the condemnation of our
border lands to build the border wall.[UNDRIP, Article 5]

2.) Immediate suspension of the use of Condemnation Proceedings and the fast-track Declaration of Taking
Act in the Lower Rio Grande Valley and in all similarly impacted places of the U.S.-Mexico border .
[UNDRIP, Article 7, 8, §2]

3.) Investigation into all human rights violations which occurred against Texas-Mexico border Indigenous
peoples and impacted low-income, river-based land owners under the supervision of Secretary Michael
Chertoff. [UNDRIP, Article 8 §1-2, Article 10, 11 §2].

4.) Recognize the political status of Lipan Apache and Jumano-Apache families on the U.S.-Mexico and
Texas-Mexico international border, who live, work, pray and subsist on lands we have traditionally
owned, used and occupied and whose original title has been further recognized in Spanish Land Grants,
Treaties, and other legal mechanisms. [UNDRIP, Article 9, 11, §1, 12 §1-2, 13 §1-2, 15 §1-2, 17§1, 18,
19, 20 §2, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26 §1-3, 27, 28, 29, 31].
5.) Recognition of the political status of the original Indigenous Peoples of the Texas-Mexico bordered
lands as first guardians over sacred sites, medicines, burial grounds, and other culturally significant and
relevant places in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. [UNDRIP, Article 3, 4, 5, 6, 7§1-2, 8, 11, 12, 13, 14,
15, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 39, 40].

6.) Oversee the investigation into the violations of human rights, Indigenous rights, constitutional rights, as
well as the inherently intersecting environmental rights, rights to livelihood, religion, health, education,
local tribal governance, and self-determination which have been negatively impacted by the border wall
construction project. [UNDRIP 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46].

7.) Visit El Calaboz Ranchería, and the Lower Rio Grande Valley communities of La Paloma, El Ranchito,
Granjeno, Los Ebanos, Las Milpas, and Redford (El Polvo) in West Texas, to gain an understanding of
Indigenous Peoples’ relationships with lands, sacred sites, ecological and environmental resources and
the current threats to these rights. Hear testimonies of families, women and children who claim
violations by the U.S. DHS and U.S. CBP. We request President-Elect Obama, as a newly adopted
member of the Crow Nation, to recognize the local traditional, autonomous mechanisms of Indigenous
people of the Texas-Mexico border region as legitimate.

8.) Weigh in with Indigenous Peoples’ leaders—both traditional and elected—of the U.S-Mexico border
region, and to dialogue in traditional community settings about alternatives to the border wall.

9.) Cease all the legal cases against the Indigenous and low-income land owners in the Lower Rio Grande
Valley who have been verbally, physically, psychologically and spiritually threatened by the U.S. DHS
and U.S. CBP personnel through threat, coercion and force to surrender Indigenous Peoples’ and local
communities’ lands to the U.S.

We urge the President-Elect to appoint a senior level official to oversee this critical domestic and
international policy issue. Ending injustice in the United States begins with restoring respect to Indigenous
Peoples and the human rights violations we continue to experience on a daily basis. Working with your
appointed advisory group we can break the negative legacies of war, militarization, and the impoverishment of
our region, thereby establishing working principles for a just society to benefit all of our future generations.

Respectfully,

LIST OF SIGNATORIES

• Dr. Eloisa García Támez, Lipan Apache, Associate Professor, Department of Nursing, University of Texas
Brownsville and Texas Southmost College; Co-Founder Lipan Apache Women Defense, El Calaboz Ranchería, TX
• Margo Tamez, Lipan Apache, Jumano-Apache, Co-Founder Lipan Apache Women Defense, WA; PhD Candidate,
American Studies, Washington State University, Pullman, WA
• Carmelita (Tamez) Lamb and Family, Lipan Apache, Jumano-Apache, Bottineau, North Dakota
• M. ReBeca (Tamez) Drury and Family, Lipan Apache, Jumano-Apache, San Antonio, TX
• Daniel Castro Romero, Jr., Lipan Apache, Chairman, Lipan Apache Band of Texas, Inc., TX. Official Representative
of 745 Members
• Michael Paul Hill, Nnee’ (Chiricahua Apache), San Carlos Apache Tribe, Staff, Lipan Apache Women Defense, AZ
• Enrique Madrid, Jumano-Apache, Council Member, Jumano-Apache Tribe of Texas, ( El Polvo) Redford, TX
• Roberto Lujan, Jumano-Apache, Council Member, Jumano-Apache Tribe of Texas, Presidio-Redford, TX
• John Wood, Cameron County Commission, Commissioner Precinct 2, Brownsville, TX
• Andrea Carmen, Yaqui, Executive Director, International Indian Treaty Council, AK
• Tia Oros, Zuni, Executive Director, Seventh Generation Fund, Arcata, CA
• Petuuche Gilbert, Indigenous World Association, United Nations NGO
• Teresa Leal, Ópata-Mayo, Proyecto Comadres Ambos Nogales, Sonora, Mexico
• Peter Schey, Founder and Director, Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law, CA
• Jose Matus, Yaqui, Director, Alianza Indigena Sin Fronteras/Indigenous Alliance Without Borders, AZ
• Lori Riddle, Akimel O’odham, Co-Founder, Gila River Alliance for a Clean Environment, Bapchule, Gila River Indian
Community, AZ
• E. Elizabeth Garcia, Director, Coalition of Amigos in Solidarity & Action (CASA), TX
• Reverend Michael Seifert, Proyecto Digna, Inc., Brownsville, TX
• Juanita Valdez-Cox, Executive Director, La Union del Pueblo Entero (LUPE), TX
• Graciela Sanchez, Director, Esperanza Peace and Justice Center, San Antonio, TX
• Gloria A. Ramirez, Editor, La Voz de Esperanza, San Antonio, TX
• Bill Guerra Addington, Sierra Blanca Legal Defense, Sierra Blanca, TX
• James C. Harrington, Director, Texas Civil Rights Project, TX
• Ann W. Cass, Executive Director, Proyecto Azteca, San Juan, TX
• Benigno Pena, South Texas Immigration Council Inc., Brownsville, Texas
• Alejandro Siller-González, MACC, San Juan Diego Project, Immigrants and Migrant Farmworkers/Inmigrantes y
Campesinos Migrantes, San Antonio, TX
• Kriss Worthington, Berkeley City Council, Councilmember, Berkeley, CA
• Arnoldo Garcia, National Network for Immigrant & Refugee Rights, CA
• Pedro Rios, Director, US/Mexico Border Program, American Friends Service Committee, San Diego CA
• Bradley Angel, Co-Founder and Executive Director Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice, San
Francisco, CA
• Mark Sanchez, President, San Francisco Board of Education, San Francisco, CA
• April Cotte, Co-Founder, El Polvo Women’s Network, Redford, TX
• Kamala Platt, The Meadowlark Center, KS
• Noemi Lujan Perez, Raramuri, Chief Information Architect, Desert Runner, LLC, Washington, D.C.
• Kirk L. Smith, MD, PhD, Frontera de Salud, Galveston, TX
• Bill Chandler, MIRA! Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance
• Paul "Pablo" A. Martinez, Apache, NM State Director, New Mexico LULAC Organization, Las Cruces, NM
• Fabiola Torralba, Buena Gente y Nepantlera, Espereranza Peace and Justice Center, San Antonio, TX
• Angelique Eagle Woman (Wambdi A. WasteWin), Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota Oyate, James E. Rogers Fellow in
American Indian Law, Associate Professor, University of Idaho College of Law, ID
• Pablo Padilla Jr., Zuni, Attorney, Santa Fe, New Mexico
• Jeff Wilson, Assistant Professor, Environmental Science, University of Texas-Brownsville, University of Texas Law
Working Group (Texas-Mexico Border Wall), Brownsville, TX
• Aurora Vasquez, Senior Attorney, Advancement Project, Washington, D.C.
• Tom I. Romero, II J.D., Ph.D. Associate Professor, Hamline University School of Law
• Diana Webster, Minnesota Ojibwe White Earth, Attorney at Law, Redondo Beach, CA
• Monica Schurtman, Associate Professor and Clinic Supervisor, University of Idaho College of Law, Idaho
• Jeffrey P. Shepherd, Ph.D. Assistant Professor of History, University of Texas at El Paso, TX
• Cynthia L. Bejarano, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Criminal Justice, New Mexico State University, NM
• Amy Kastely, Board Member, Esperanza Peace and Justice Center and Law Professor, St. Mary's University, San
Antonio, TX
• J. Kehaulani Kauanui, Kanaka Maoli/Native Hawaiian, Associate Professor American Studies and Anthropology,
Wesleyan University, CT
• Dr. Gail Perez, Ethnic Studies, Professor University of San Diego, San Diego, CA
• Emmy Perez, Assistant Professor, Department of English, University of Texas-Pan American, TX
• Linda Zuniga-Heidenreich, Chair and Associate Professor, Women’s Studies Department, Washington State
University, Pullman, WA
• Martha Bárcenas, Pitzer College (Professor/Language and Culture Lab Director), Claremont, CA
• Madeline Newman Rios, Ríos Translations, Claremont CA
• Dorinda Moreno, Fuerza Mundial/Elders of 4 Colors 4 Directions, Santa Maria, CA
• Jeanne Chadwick, Cherokee, Publisher/Editor My Two Beads Worth~Indigenous News
• Ken Koym, Indigenous R & D Institute & A Maya Artifacts Museum Exchange Program, Austin, TX
• Enrique Morones, Border Angels, San Diego CA
• Erik Tamez-Hrabovsky & Children: Hawk Mendoza (14), Milpa de Otoño Mendoza (13), Maura Sun Tamez (9),
Aria Mikassandra Reina Mundo Yellow-Basket-Weaver Tamez-Hrabovsky (5), Lipan Apache, Jumano-Apache
Pullman, WA
• Rosie Molano Blount, Chiricahua Apache, Del Rio, Texas and Pecos, Texas
• Emil LaRocque, Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, Tribal Scholarship Director, Turtle Mountain
Community College/Chippewa Rancher, North Dakota
• Yvonne 'Little Fawn' Oakes, Mohawk Nation
• Richard Oakes Jr., Mohawk Nation
• Leonard Oakes, Mohawk Nation Akwasasne, St. Regis, Canada
• Pura Fe Crescioni, Tuscarora Nation of North Carolina
• Bettina Escauriza, Guarani-Basque, Inter-Tribal Friendship House, Oakland, CA
• Looking Back Woman, Suzanne Dupree, Minneconjou Lakota, Cheyenne River Agency, Eagle Butte, SD
• Abner Burnett, Attorney (Civil Rights), Rio Grande Valley, TX
• Isabel Sanchez, San Antonio, TX
• Lupita Santana, Pharr, TX
• Phillip H. Duran, New Mexico
• Jacqueline White, RN, PhD, Tucson, AZ
• Erika Gisela Abad, Chicago, Illinois
• Ryan Tauber, Educator, Brownsville Independent School District, and Member of Coalition of Amigos in Solidarity
& Action (CASA), Brownsville, TX
• Yajaira Fuentes-Tauber, Brownsville Independent School District, and Member of Coalition of Amigos in Solidarity
& Action (CASA), Brownsville, TX
• Judy Meuth, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Women's Studies, Washington State University,
Pullman, WA
• Cesar Alejandro (Filmmaker), President, Alexandria Films, El Paso, TX
• Iram and Molly Verduzco, Austin, TX
• Joe and Jane Krause, Pax Christi, Brownsville, TX
• Sandra Cisneros, Author, San Antonio, TX
• Yolanda Moreno, A Resource In Serving Equality (ARISE), Rio Grande Valley, TX
• Sanjuanita Martinez, Rio Grande Valley, TX
• Esperanza Berrones, Pharr, TX
• Maria Esparza, Rio Grande Valley, TX
• Hortencia Medina, Rio Grande Valley, TX
• Gary James, Ontario, Canada