Local members of a Native American tribal nation are protesting against a Galveston-based company awarded a $145 million contract to construct part of a border wall along the United States-Mexico border.
About 20 people gathered Saturday at the SLSCO Ltd. building, 6702 Broadway, to protest the company’s contract to construct about 6 miles of levee wall, event organizer Christopher Huron said.
Huron is a member of the Carrizo/Comecrudo Tribal Nation, which has ancestral lands in South Texas and northern Mexico, he said.
“We got multiple people who seemed to be honking in support of our message,” Huron said.
Awarded Oct. 31, the contract between the company and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection calls for removing vegetation and installing a concrete wall with 18-foot bollards along the border near McAllen in Hidalgo County, according to a border protection release.
The 6-mile section would be the first of President Donald Trump’s long-promised border wall.
Sullivan Interests, a group of companies started by Galveston natives and brothers Todd, John and William Sullivan, owns SLSCO.
Construction is slated to begin in February and was funded through border protection’s 2018 fiscal year appropriation, according to the release.
Company Principal Billy Sullivan declined to comment Wednesday.
The group organized by Huron gathered Saturday to voice environmental and cultural heritage concerns about the border wall, Huron said.
“That is our traditional land,” Huron said. “That is the land we have occupied since before it was the U.S., since way before it was Texas.”
He worries wall construction will dig up ancestral burial or archeological sites as well as cause environmental damage, he said.
There are several specific sites the tribal nation is concerned about, Tribal Chairman Juan Mancias said.
“We do exist; we’re still here, we do speak our language,” Mancias said. “When you dig up my ancestors, you’re killing them again.”
More than 137,000 people illegally crossed the border through the 6-mile section were the wall is to be built during the 2017-2018 fiscal year, according to the border patrol.
The levee wall is meant to serve as an impediment to criminal organizations and allow locals access to their property, border patrol spokespeople said.
But in addition to concerns about the cultural integrity of the land, tribal members also worry about harm to local species and habitat, Huron said.
Local members of the Carrizo/Comecrudo nation plan future protests, Huron said.
“We want to fight this,” Huron said. “We don’t want this to happen. This is a disaster for all of the American people.”
On a statewide level, the tribal nation plans to continue protesting the wall through events such as walks, Mancias said.