O’odham Sacred Site Defender Amber Ortega Not Guilty for Halting Border Construction, 10 am, 1.21.22

PRESS RELEASE – O’odham Community & Supporters to Hold Press Conference Regarding Recent Court Cases & Victory for Sacred Site Defender Amber Ortega

Groundbreaking court ruling in favor of Indigenous religious freedom argument sets important legal precedent for Indigenous land and water protectors

Tucson, AZ — On January 19, 2022, Amber Ortega, a Hia Ced O’odham and Tohono O’odham land and water protector and O’odham Anti Border Collective member, received a not guilty verdict for her actions to halt border wall construction at A’al Vappia/Quitobaquito spring, a sacred site for Hia Ced O’odham and Tohono O’odham peoples, on September 9, 2020.

On the same day in Ajo, Arizona two other land protectors facing charges for associated action against border militarization on O’odham homelands who were attacked with pepper spray and rubber bullets on Indigenous People’s Day 2020 received fines and community service.

Ortega was represented by attorney Amy Knight, who also successfully represented No More Deaths activist Scott Warren’s similar use of religious freedom for humanitarian work with migrants crossing the border in O’odham homelands. Amber Ortega and Nellie Jo David, who also faced charges for the action, maintained during their court proceedings that they were acting as required by O’odham Him:dag (religion, tradition, and culture) when they took direct action to protect the sacred site of A’al Vappia/Quitobaquito Springs in Hia Ced O’odham jewed (O’odham homelands) near Ajo, Arizona from destruction by the racist border wall construction. They prayed for the land and water, sang spiritual songs, and put their bodies before the machines of death.

WHAT: Press Conference Regarding Recent Court Cases & Victory for Sacred Site Defender Amber Ortega

WHO: Amber Ortega, Hia Ced O’odham & Tohono O’odham

Nellie Jo David, Hia Ced O’odham & Tohono O’odham

Amy Knight, attorney

David Garcia, Former Tohono O’odham Tribal Council Member of the Chukut Kuk district, member of the O’odham Elders Council
Amy Juan, Arizona Tribal and Community Liaison for International Treaty Council

Isabel Garcia, Former Pima County legal defender, Co-Chair of Coalición de Derechos Humanos

Riley Conklin, Indigenous Peoples’ Day Action Trial Defendant

WHERE: Arizona State Office Building, 416 Congress Street, Tucson, AZ 85701

WHEN: 10:00AM, Friday, January 21, 2022


O’odham Anti Border Collective is a grassroots collective of Akimel O’odham, Tohono O’odham, and Hia Ced O’odham tribal members and descendants committed to the unification of all O’odham peoples, regeneration of O’odham himdag (traditions, spirituality, language, and culture), and the protection of O’odham jewed (homelands) through the dismantling of colonial borders.

Defend O’odham Jewed* is an O’odham u’uwi (women) led grassroots movement and spiritual direct action campaign to protect the sacred O’odham homelands from desecration and violence.

*jewed (sometimes spelled jeved as well) means homelands in the O’odham language

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