California tribe blocks border-wall demolition on ‘ancestral burial grounds’

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BOULEVARD, Calif. (Border Report) — About a dozen members of the Kumeyaay Nation and supporters gathered in the tiny outpost of Boulevard, Calif., to stop demolition work along the U.S.-Mexico border, about a 90-minute drive east of San Diego.

They stood and chanted Monday as crews and Border Patrol agents appeared ready to blow up old portions of the border fence to clear the way for new sections of fencing.

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The Kumeyaay tribe, native to the region of what is now San Diego County and Northern Baja California, Mexico says “igniting explosives will disturb and desecrate ancestral burial grounds and artifacts in the area.”

Pictures provided by the American Friends Service Committee show explosives strewn on the ground and crews preparing the site for demolition.

According to the Border Patrol, it asked the Army Corps of Engineers to temporarily halt the work.

“Out of caution, Monday’s scheduled blasting was postponed and we are working with the construction contractor to reschedule,” wrote Border Patrol Agent Justin Castrejon.

Agent Castrejon pointed out the area has been researched and they don’t think the work will damage any Native American remains or cultural materials.

“Based on prior environmental surveys and stakeholder coordination completed, no biological, cultural, or historical sites were identified within the blasting area located within the Roosevelt Reservation. In addition, CBP has and will continue to coordinate with federal land managers, state agencies, local governments, tribal governments, and other interested stakeholders.

“CBP has a cultural monitor present at the construction site to ensure that if any previously unidentified culturally sensitive artifacts are observed within the project area that construction is halted and the appropriate stakeholders are notified to include tribal nations. In addition, the environmental monitor is present to ensure construction best management practices are being implemented by the construction contractor.”

The people who gathered to stop the work called the postponement a “temporary victory,” and promised to return in the coming days hoping to permanently prevent the explosives work.

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