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A wall within a wall: How Trump’s plan affects already divided Tohono O’odham nation

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For the Tohono O’odham nation, a border wall already exists, it just hasn’t been built yet. In the desert of southern Arizona, the federally recognized O’odham reservation occupies 4,464 square miles of desert that half of its 34,000 enrolled population call home. But, the original tribal land — roughly the size of Connecticut — extends far past southern Arizona into Sonora, Mexico. Some tribal members still make the journey across the border to practice traditional migratory patterns and visit family members and sacred grounds in northern Mexico. Donna Garcia, 31,  a mother and lifetime resident on the O’odham reservation, said her mother, Janet, makes the trip to the border from Sells on foot. Her mother is only one of a large group of O’odham people who migrate in early October to celebrate the feast day of Saint Francis of Assisi in northern...

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Arizona justice: Freeing the wrongly imprisoned

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In the fall of 2011, Khalil Rushdan walked out of prison a free man. Rushdan served 15 years of a 25-year sentence following his conviction for first-degree felony murder in 1997.  That year, Rushdan wasn’t alone when he became a free man. He was one of the 74 people exonerated in the U.S., according to the National Registry for Exonerations. His story, like so many others, is complex. In 1993, Rushdan worked as a middleman for drug dealers and sellers in Tucson. What started out as a regular deal quickly turned to violence. Rushdan had left the buyers and seller alone for the transaction and when he returned, one of the buyers had shot and killed the seller. “I come back to the house to lock up and make sure that nothing was left behind, to clean up,” said Rushdan. “And, I see them...

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Contamination from decades of uranium mining lingers on Navajo land

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  On Navajo Nation land, the ghost of the mining industry’s past still haunts the native people who live there. It began in the 1940s when the Navajo land was — and still is — a hotbed for uranium.  The new weapon-manufacturing industry brought a new opportunity for jobs among the natives living on the land, but it came at a cost. Now, government agencies and researchers from across the country work toward cleaning the hundreds of abandoned mines left after four decades of mining ended in 1986. A goal is to understand the effects that decades-long uranium contamination has on the Navajo people. The contamination effects over half of the tribe’s population. With 300,000 people, the Navajo tribe is the second largest Native American group in the U.S., according to recent U.S. Census data. Of those 300,000, some 156,000...

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