The Imaginary Line

Emma Fulton & Graham DeSanto

An old metal fence cuts a path through the desert in what is now Southern and Central Arizona, but is more importantly the ancestral lands of the Tohono O’odham Nation

In 1848, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ended the Mexican-American War and set the groundwork for the original border between the two countries. One thing this treaty did not consider was the 29 indigenous tribes along the borderlands. But it didn’t stop there… both countries have continued to marginalize their indigenous peoples and threaten their ancestral lands. For the Tohono O’odham people, this fact has never been more apparent than as the United States began trying to build a physical wall through the middle of their lands. Throughout history, the American indigenous peoples have had to face incarceration, militarization, and the destruction of their home all over a border that comes down to no more than an Imaginary Line.

Further Readings

“Kelly Lytle Hernandez : City of Inmates: Conquest, Rebellion, and the Rise of Human Caging.” YouTube, uploaded by issi, 2 April 2018, 

“At US-Mexico border, a tribal nation fights wall that would divide them,” YouTube, uploaded by PBS NewsHour, 13 January 2019,

Riva, Sara, and Erin Routon. “Reinforcing and Contesting Neoliberal Citizenship: Legal Advocates and the Asylum Interview at the US-Mexico Border.” Journal of Refugee Studies, vol. 34, no. 1, Mar. 2021, pp. 149–72. EBSCOhost,

Dungan , Ron. “A Moving Border, and the History of a Difficult Boundary.” USA Today, Gannett Satellite Information Network, 

Hernandez, Kelly Lytle. City of Inmates : Conquest, Rebellion, and the Rise of Human Caging in Los Angeles, 1771-1965. The University of North Carolina Press, 2017. EBSCOhost,,ip&db=cat00344a&AN=mucat.b4519680&site=eds-live&scope=site

Sin Fronteras, Alianza Indígena & Leza, Christina “Handbook on Indigenous Peoples’ Border Crossing Rights Between the United States and Mexico”. PDF Download,

Music Provided by: Copyright Free Music – Background Music For Videos

One thought on “The Imaginary Line

  • Kaylee Acevedo

    This topic was so interesting to listen to and to discover! I think discussing how and why borders are created is really interesting. They are man-made concepts that citizens are expected to follow so rigidly. When borders are created, a clear distinction between us and them is developed. That is exactly what happened back then and it is exactly what is happening now. Will we ever see a world without borders? Maybe so and maybe not. But wouldn’t it be interesting to see a world without borders? Thank you for sharing!

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