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Hopi Tribe: Border Wall Construction Would Block Ceremonial Migration Route

Larry Simkins/Arizona Trail Association

The Hopi Tribe says the Trump administration’s plan to build 74 miles of barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border would disrupt a ceremonial migration route.

According to Hopi Vice Chairman Clark Tenakhongva it would cut off the Palatkwapi Trail, which the tribe uses to maintain cultural and ceremonial connections to Indigenous groups in Mexico and Central America.

“If this project is allowed to proceed, it would create a permanent scar across the Palatkwapi and Arizona Trail which also serves as a footpath from the borderlands to northern Arizona, and passes by the traditional Hopi migration route from Casas Grandes, Mexico to the Hopi Mesas,” said Tenakhongva in a press release.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced the plan in March that includes sections of 30-foot steel bollard fencing, road construction, lighting, a linear ground detection system and imbedded cameras. A public comment period ends Friday.

Conservationists say the construction threatens the recovery of endangered jaguars in the U.S. In addition, advocates for the Arizona National Scenic Trail say the proposal would destroy one of the 800-mile trail’s most important areas near the U.S.-Mexico border in the Huachuca Mountains and Coronado National Memorial.

The Trump administration is facing several legal challenges from environmental groups opposed to the border wall.

Ryan joined KNAU's newsroom in 2013. He covers a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a frequent contributor to NPR.
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