Our first activity of the day was visiting one of the border checkpoints on the reservation. I am not sure what I was really expecting, but all I can say is that it felt very weird to be able to stand in both countries and stare miles down the dirt road that runs along the border. Being able to see the landscape helped give me a better understanding of the possibility of changing the physical border barriers, mostly that the desert sand and massive flood washes would pose much more of an issue than most politicians who have not been on-site can fathom.
We had the opportunity to listen to another tribal member today – Selso Villegas, head of Water Resources Management for TON and self-proclaimed “earth doctor.” Selso is a prime model of a tribal member who left the reservation for higher education and a different style of life who decided to return to the nation and offer his services to better the nation. Based on our talk, I would describe Selso as the natural resources peace-maker of the tribe, always looking out for the betterment of his community while keeping both federal parties and O’odham parties satisfied. What struck me most about talking with him was that the O’odham have not only a creation story, but also a destruction story – one that says the earth will be destroyed by people while the O’odham stand by without stepping in to protect mother earth. Based on this belief, Selso said that the way to survive climate change is founded on the fact that the human purpose is not to procreate, but to adapt and survive (Darwin, is that you?).
Before making the drive to Ajo we backtracked to Kitt Peak Astronomical Observatory to find magnificent views of Baboquivari and the rest of the land as well as discover massive telescopes on the mountain. I did not read much into how these giant telescopes work, but interestingly enough, as tall as they are above ground, most of them extend much farther underground in the body of the mountains. I wonder if this has something to do with light supply or reflection/refraction?