But Rep. Raúl Grijalva, an Arizona Democrat, said he’s still hoping the crews will change course before it’s too late.
“You can’t replace these things. You can’t fix them once they’re gone,” Grijalva said. “And as someone that grew up in the borderlands, it’s painful to know that this is occurring.”
US Customs and Border Protection did not respond to CNN’s inquiries about the explosions. In a statement to the Arizona Republic, the agency said blasts had started in the area.
Grijalva said the blasting occurred last week in an area known as Monument Hill, a place where he said Apache warriors who battled with the O’odham were laid to rest.
Grijalva said officials appear to be fast-tracking wall construction to score political points rather than heeding serious requests from Tohono O’odham leaders.
“It’s a political agenda, without worrying about consequences that could happen in terms of these sacred sites,” he said.
Asked whether he’d confirmed the blasts had damaged sacred burial sites or whether that was something he feared would happen, Grijalva said, “It’s more of a fear, given the behavior and given the lack of consultation, given the lack of concern.”
“We hope that by putting some level of public light on this issue, it forces Homeland Security to think twice. It’s all within their discretion,” he said. “If they decide to do it differently, it can be done differently.”
“This mountain (Monument Hill) is a sacred site to the O’odham and other indigenous people,” he said. “And it’s quite literally being blown up so Trump can build the border wall across this mountain. … It’s just heartbreaking to watch.”
At another site in Organ Pipe last month, he said, bulldozers flattened cacti in what he described on Twitter as “horrific destruction.”
Norris, the Tohono O’odham chairman, accused US federal officials of violating their own policies by moving forward with construction without holding “meaningful consultations.”
“The Tohono O’odham Nation is adamantly opposed to the construction of the 30-foot, fortified border wall, which would irrevocably harm cultural sites, sacred sites and the environment,” Norris said. “Media reports that explosives are now being used further demonstrates the massive and unnecessary destruction the wall is inflicting.”