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Border Agency Liaison Helps Kumeyaay Nation

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  • Border Agency Liaison Helps Kumeyaay Nation

    <from U.S. Govt website>

    NOVEMBER 2009

    November is American Indian Heritage Month and the theme selected for this year’s observance is “Living in Many Worlds.” This year’s theme recognizes that American Indians continue to shape our society by preserving the heritage of their ancestors and adding to the rich diversity of the modern industrialized world. Throughout history, the survival of American Indians has depended on their careful management of the environment. Like their ancestors, modern day native people use resources to meet their needs. Today, they draw on traditional knowledge and practices to guide them into the future.

    The original people of North America have shaped our nation’s history and culture. Since the Revolutionary War, American Indians have played a vital role in our country’s freedom and security…including our homeland security. American Indian tribes have lands that straddle the borders between the United States and Mexico and Canada. Many tribal communities exist in border regions patrolled by Agents from the Office of Border Patrol underscoring our need to foster strong working relationships and collaboration to achieve our vital homeland security mission. CBP has established liaisons to build bridges between our agency and tribal leaders.

    “P.B.”, Senior Border Patrol Agent, assigned to the San Diego Sector, serves as a liaison between CBP and the local Native American tribes. In this role, Mr. B. fosters lines of communication and builds relationships with officials in the seventeen Native American governments in San Diego County.

    CBP provides training to local Native American law enforcement officials on homeland security, detection of fraudulent documents, and first response training. This training helps American Indian communities protect their lands and also benefits CBP as tribal officials provide support in patrolling and protecting the borders of the United States. As Mr. B. explained, having partnerships with members of the local tribal community gives CBP an extra set of eyes and ears, as they in turn provide information about drug smuggling routes and other illegal activities that CBP may otherwise be unaware.

    The area Mr. B. patrols is home to the Kumeyaay Nation, which is a branch of the Native Yuman Indians of North America whose tribal homelands include southern California, southwestern Arizona, and northern Baja California, Mexico.

    The Kumeyaay Nation has been in California and Mexico for over 10,000 years. In 1848 the Treaty of Guadalupe Hildalgo established the U.S.-Mexico Border through the heart of indigenous Kumeyaay territory, cutting the Kumeyaay Nation into two distinct parts.

    In an effort to allow members of the Kumeyaay Nation born in Mexico to travel between the U.S. and Mexico, CBP partnered with the Kumeyaay Nation to establish a Kumeyaay Border Task Force. This agreement allowed the 1,300 members of the Kumeyaay Nation that were born in Mexico to obtain border crossing documents. These documents allow the Mexican Kumeyaay to travel to United States through the official ports of entry to teach their history and culture.

    Mr. B. explained that his service as a Native American Liaison Agent has given him a new found respect and appreciation for Native American cultures. He has been invited to participate in Pow Wows with several tribes and been given first-hand exposure to their heritage, history, art, and traditions.

    With the existence of ongoing national security threats, the partnerships built through the Native American Liaison program have become increasingly valuable. CBP’s presence in Native American border regions helps alert us to possible dangers facing our country. These partnerships also give CBP officials an opportunity to learn and appreciate the tribal culture and traditions that have become ingrained in the American spirit, such as the knowledge that humans can thrive and prosper without destroying the natural environment, the understanding that people from different backgrounds can come together to build a great country, and the awareness that diversity can be a source of strength rather than division.

    During National American Indian Heritage Month, we reflect on the remarkable history and the diverse influences that the first Americans have had on our nation. In CBP we celebrate their vibrant culture, heritage, and contributions to our homeland security mission, and encourage your participation in the commemorative events and activities that are planned at CBP locations around the nation. For additional program information, please contact your local EEO Manager

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