Sunday, November 19, 2006

Alianza’s Matus at CQL for Human Rights Day

In observance of International Human Rights Day, José R. Matus, Yaqui
ceremonial leader and founder of Alianza Indigena sin Fronteras (Indigenous
Alliance without Borders), will present a free “Indigenous Human Rights”
program on December 6 at 6:30pm at the Copper Queen Library, located at
6 Main Street in Bisbee’s Historic District.

Alianza was formed in 1997 to build a grassroots movement to promote
respect for Indigenous sovereignty and human/civil rights; protect natural
resources in native lands; and preserve Indigenous culture and language
along the border and urban regions.

Yaqui, O'odham, Cocopah, and Kickapoo regularly cross the international
border from California all the way to Texas to visit family members and
attend traditional ceremonies. The Yaqui, O'odham and Cocopah have lived
in the Sonoran Desert since time immemorial.

“The Yaqui have always been a nomadic tribe,” Matus said.

But, while international law guarantees the rights of Indigenous peoples to
maintain their cultural and religious ceremonies across borders and states
that the cutting of cultural ties violates U.S. laws, treaties, and international
laws, increased militarization on the southern border has interfered with
Indigenous rights.

Although Matus has negotiated written border crossing agreements on behalf
of the Pascua Yaqui tribe with the U.S. Consulate, the Department of Homeland
Security, and the State Department to allow Yaqui ceremonial leaders to enter
the country and conduct ceremonies, problems still remain for the 40,000 Yaquis
living in Arizona and in eight villages in Sonora every time they try to cross the
border and attend their ancestral ceremonies.

Matus said Indigenous peoples in Mexico, primarily subsistence farmers with few
means, cannot meet the requirements of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization
Service to cross the border. "Indigenous people in Mexico don’t have electric and
gas bill receipts. They don't have money in the bank," he said.

For further information on this program, plese contact the library at 432-4232.