Native American burial sites have been blown up by construction crews building the US-Mexico border wall, says a lawmaker and tribal leaders.
Authorities confirmed that “controlled blasting” has begun at Arizona’s Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, a Unesco recognised natural reserve.
Raul Grijalva, a Democratic congressman, called the destruction “sacrilegious”.
The government failed to consult the Tohono O’odham Nation, he said.
Environmental groups also warn of the damage being done to the local underground aquifer, as well as to migrating wildlife in the remote desert region about 115 miles west of Tucson.
Officials say the aim of the project is to construct a 30ft-tall steel barrier that runs for 43 miles on the national park land.
The United Nations designated Organ Pipe as an International Biosphere Reserve in 1976, calling it “a pristine example of an intact Sonoran Desert ecosystem”.
This is the top of "Monument Hill," a sacred site to multiple tribes, that @DHSgov is dynamiting right now to build the #borderwall. It's part of the historic homeland of the O'odham. Apache are buried here. Trump waived the Native American Graves Protection Act to allow this. pic.twitter.com/NsFeLZTaMH
— Russ McSpadden (@PeccaryNotPig) February 9, 2020