Fantasia Painter

Bordering the Tohono O'odham: Enforcing the Boundaries of Race, Gender, Indigeneity, and Land at the US-Mexico Border, 1870-1930

Scholars have separately investigated the rise of the US-Mexico Border during the Mexican Revolution and the US policy of gendered assimilation aimed at Native Americans during the same time period. What has yet to be investigated are the ways these are mutually informed, simultaneous, and coterminous. These entanglements are nowhere more visible then on Tohono O’odham land and in the Tohono O’odham community which is bifurcated by the border in southern Arizona.

This archival research on the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) records on the Tohono O’odham from 1888-1954 at the National Archives in Riverside, CA theorizes “borderings,” the simultaneous and mutually informed constitution of boundaries of race, gender, Indigeneity, and land. Through a close examination of the Subject Files of Indian, the Reports of the Field Matrons, and the Subject Files of Superintendent I ask how were these intersections thought or not-thought together? How did the hardening of the US-Mexico Border in the 1910’s inform the gendered assimilation project of the same era? How are the Tohono O’odham being multiply bordered. My analysis of the data collected will also be featured in an article.