Margo Tamez (Ndé, ‘Lipan Apache’) is a member of the Lipan Apache Band of Texas and an Assistant Professor in the Faculties of Indigenous Studies and Gender & Women’s Studies at the University of British Columbia Okanagan (Canada).
Indigenous Peoples, Human Rights, U.S.-Texas-Mexico Border Militarization & Environmental Destruction
From the earliest stages of the U.S. dispossessions against indigenous land owners in 2007, (Secure Fence Act 2006), and the dismantling of 35 Federal Laws by Secretary Michael Chertoff to disarm land owners and community resistance against the armed dispossession of lands from U.S. Indigenous citizens, Margo Tamez worked alongside impacted Indigenous Elders, women, and workers to coordinate community-based land protection based in international law, human rights, and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Along with her mother, Eloisa Garcia Tamez, Tamez launched two legal challenges against the United States Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Customs Border Patrol, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to challenge dispossession against Indigenous Peoples.
Since 2007, Tamez co-founded Lipan Apache Women Defense and the Emilio Institute for Indigenous Human Rights as a site to develop research, scholarship, and policy on indigenous human rights by, with, for, and alongside first peoples of the Texas-Mexico border region.
In 2009, she gave testimony at the Inter-American Commission/Organization of American States alongside the University of Texas Law Working Group related to U.S. human rights violations of the border wall. Related publications include “Restoring Lipan Apache Women’s Laws, Lands, and Strength in El Calaboz Ranchería at the Texas-Mexico Border,” Signs, Vol. 35, No. 3 (Spring 2010) and “Our Way of Life is Our Resistance”: Indigenous Women and Anti-Imperialist Challenges to Militarization along the U.S.-Mexico Border,” Susan Comfort, Ed., Works and Days 57/58, Vol. 29, 2011.
Margo is the author of critically acclaimed poetry collections, Raven Eye (University of Arizona, 2007) and Naked Wanting (University of Arizona, 2003), which drew attention to indigenous women and gender violence in the Arizona-Texas military complex. She is currently writing a book on recovering Lipan Apache community history, indigenous participation and decision-making, and implications of Lipan Apache Aboriginal Title and genocide history in the shadows of the border wall and Tamez v U.S. Department of Homeland Security et al.
Tamez has devoted over 25 years to grassroots and transnational Indigenous cultural, environmental, social, economic justice activism, concentrating on the socialm movements of Indigenous peoples in the integral U.S.-Mexico communities of Indigenous Nations which are problematically bifurcated by the international boundary. Her poetry, non-fiction, criticism, scholarship, and documentary are founded in community-based Knowledge Systems, prioritizing Indigenous Rights, and protection of Indigenous Intellectual Property.
Her published books include Raven Eye (University of Arizona, 2007), Naked Wanting (University of Arizona, 2003), and Alleys & Allies.
She is a founding co-organizer of the Lipan Apache Women Defense, known world-wide for connecting local struggles to the world through innovative digital bridges.
She is a sustaining member of autonomous indigenous women's solidarity networks linking bifurcated Indigenous Nations to the interior of Mexico, the U.S., Canada and the world. Other affiliations have included: Maricopa Families for Natural Resource Conservation and Clean Air Outreach, Environmental Concerns Organization,Traditional Native American Farmers Association, Gila River Alliance for a Clean Environment, O'odham Solidarity Across Borders, and many others.
Her current advocacy is focused on the recovery of Nde' oral history and protection of archival and photograph collections directly related to Nde' peoples in the Texas-Mexico border lands. The production of film and other media which document the Nde' self-determination and autonomy movement are currently underway in south Texas. Tamez works alongside community experts, Nde' peoples, in the ongoing struggle to recuperate and return Nde' histories back to the Nde' peoples and to make visible Nde' social movements through the relevant lenses of dispossession, the Doctrine of Discovery, destruction of biodiversity related to colonialism in the Americas, gender, militarisms, sexual violence, and genocidal policies of the U.S. ongoing along the Texas-Mexico border.
Her current documentation activism in the Texas-Mexico border Nde' communities interrogates the U.S. border wall as a 'deathscape' in KONITSAII GOKIYAA--Nde' traditional homelands--where several layers of colonialist genocides unfolded in the 200 years prior to the wall's construction. Tamez emphasizes Indigenous peoples' resilience and adaptations in the face of numerous violent settler societies and the challenges to maintain ties to the homeland, Aboriginal Title and autonomous rights to resources which predate the nation-state. The border wall is a crucial signifier of the ongoing devastated impacts afflicting Indigenous peoples in the United States directly tied to the Eurocentric economic and cultural domination of resources in this hemisphere.