Divided Peoples: Policy, Activism, and Indigenous Identities on the U.S.-Mexico Border (Critical Issues in Indigenous Studies) (Paperback)

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The border region of the Sonoran Desert, which spans southern Arizona in the United States and northern Sonora, Mexico, has attracted national and international attention. But what is less discussed in national discourses is the impact of current border policies on the Native peoples of the region. There are twenty-six tribal nations recognized by the U.S. federal government in the southern border region and approximately eight groups of Indigenous peoples in the United States with historical ties to Mexico—the Yaqui, the O’odham, the Cocopah, the Kumeyaay, the Pai, the Apaches, the Tiwa (Tigua), and the Kickapoo.

Divided Peoples addresses the impact border policies have on traditional lands and the peoples who live there—whether environmental degradation, border patrol harassment, or the disruption of traditional ceremonies. Anthropologist Christina Leza shows how such policies affect the traditional cultural survival of Indigenous peoples along the border. The author examines local interpretations and uses of international rights tools by Native activists, counterdiscourse on the U.S.-Mexico border, and challenges faced by Indigenous border activists when communicating their issues to a broader public.

Through ethnographic research with grassroots Indigenous activists in the region, the author reveals several layers of division—the division of Indigenous peoples by the physical U.S.-Mexico border, the divisions that exist between Indigenous perspectives and mainstream U.S. perspectives regarding the border, and the traditionalist/nontraditionalist split among Indigenous nations within the United States. Divided Peoples asks us to consider the possibilities for challenging settler colonialism both in sociopolitical movements and in scholarship about Indigenous peoples and lands.

About the Author

Christina Leza is an associate professor of anthropology at Colorado College. She is a linguistic anthropologist whose research interests include Indigenous peoples, racial and ethnic discourses, Indigenous rights, grassroots activism, and the U.S.-Mexico border.

Praise For…

"Voices of Indigenous activists are centered in this accessible ethnography, which offers an imperative exploration into the ways Indigenous peoples, cultures, families, work and land are negatively impacted by US border policies."—Karla Strand, Ms. Magazine

“…overall Divided People has many strengths, one of which is the captivating history of the Yoeme and Lipan Apache nations. The accounts of these nations are brief but excellently told…overall I found that Divided People was strong in showing the need for academic disciplines to move the narratives concerning Indigenous people and educate the mainstream public to be more aware and responsive to the contemporary issues Native Americans face.”—Elvia Rodríguez, American Indian Culture and Research Journal

"Christina Leza’s Divided Peoples offers a compelling examination of the fraught U.S.-Mexico borderlands. Given recent times and contentious debates about immigration, her thorough examination is much needed and timely, especially from Indigenous perspectives."—Edison Cassadore, Tribal College Journal

"As the flourishing field of Indigenous studies continues to examine the ways in which Native peoples enact a transnational politics of sovereignty, books like Divided Peoples are integral. As nation-states continue to run roughshod over the histories, cultures, and rights of border peoples (Native and non-Native), books like Divided Peoples are imperative."—Nicholas Barron, Native American and Indigenous Studies

"Through [this] book, we see the complexities and contradictions of Indigenous activism and the multiple negotiations of identity and community boundaries necessary to achieve rights of mobility and passage of Indigenous peoples."—Rocío Gil, American Anthropologist

“At this time more than ever, an understanding of the crisis on the U.S.-Mexico border needs to be understood from the perspectives of Indigenous peoples of the region. Christina Leza’s book provides us with deep insight into the responses of Native activists to the militarization of the border.”—Baron L. Pineda, author of Shipwrecked Identities: Navigating Race on Nicaragua’s Mosquito Coast

“Divided Peoples delivers timely scholarship on the border region while constructively critiquing anthropological framings of how indigenous communities survive in settler colonial contexts.”—Joyce Bennett, American Ethnologist

“Leza examines the many complexities in indigenous border identities and the various challenges activists face in overcoming intra- and intercommunity divisions. Hopefully, Divided Peoples will provide a ready blueprint for Native peoples to challenge nation-state restrictions on transborder movements.”—T. P. Bowman, Choice


Product Details
ISBN: 9780816543212
ISBN-10: 0816543216
Publisher: University of Arizona Press
Publication Date: June 1st, 2021
Pages: 240
Language: English
Series: Critical Issues in Indigenous Studies