Before there was the state of Arizona, before U.S. colonial westward expansion, and before the Spanish even, the land now known as Arizona was populated by indigenous nations and tribes and some of those tribes are rejecting the imposition of SB1070.
Many tribes within the Arizona state borders say that they had no input into the law and it’s implementation and how SB1070 would negatively impact their community, many whose identity crosses with the mestizaje of many Latinos. Indigenous communities across the United States, additionally, never asked to become citizens of the United States. As lands were taken, so were they and now many are angry that they have to prove that they “belong”.
Navajo Nation Councilman Delegate Kee Allen Begay, Jr. said Arizona’s new law violates the civil rights of members of the Navajo Nation, the largest Native American tribe in the U.S. He said tribal members will be disproportionately targeted because some police might conclude that they are Hispanic.
“In a way, the immigration bill is an attempt to harass Native Americans,” Begay said. “When we are pulled over or stopped we are usually pulled over and asked for our IDs. Sometimes we do not carry those things, and perhaps at that time we will have difficulty proving we are Native American.”
Begay said the new immigration law does nothing positive for Native Americans. He hypothetically asked what non-Native Americans would think of a bill they perceived as targeting them for their ethnic appearance.
“What if we had a law that said whenever a white person is traveling through the Navajo Reservation, we have reasonable suspicion that they’re carrying drugs? Where would the outcry on that be?” Begay asked. “We were here before anyone else, before any white people, and now we’re going to be questioned about being here legally?”
In the article quoted above, Larry Scarber, a tribal liaison for the Arizona Department of Public Safety, said that those nations that did not cooperate would then have SB1070 apply to non-tribal members on the reservation, or to tribal members when they leave the reservation.
Again this raises the issue of profiling and segregation, I would dare say. Who within the reservation will get ask to show tribal id? Are tribal members expected to remain on the reservations, not go to work etc. in order to not be profiled?