Seth Schermerhorn

Associate Professor of Religious Studies Seth Schermerhorn recently presented his research on a panel discussing O’odham pilgrimages to Magdalena. The panel was hosted by Border Community Alliance (BCA), described on its website as “a nonprofit organization dedicated to bridging the [U.S.-Mexico] border and fostering community through education collaboration and cultural exchange.”

The virtual event was part of The Borderlands Forum, a series of BCA classes and workshops that are focused on being “a clear, strong voice advocating mutual respect for the cultural diversity of the US-Mexico border region, thereby moderating the forces of xenophobia and racism that affect our region.”

The panel was organized by Schermerhorn who discussed his book Walking to Magdalena: Personhood and Place in Tohono O’odham Songs, Sticks, and Stories, co-published last year by the University of Nebraska Press and the American Philosophical Society.

Joining Schermerhorn on the panel were Louis “Anthony” Lopez and Verlon Jose, citizens of the Tohono O’odham Nation, an Indigenous people whose ancestral homeland is divided in half by the U.S.-Mexico border.

Schermerhorn said that for nearly two decades, Lopez, a counselor for the Nation’s Health and Human Services and a DJ at the O’odham Hewel Ni’ok Network, and Jose, governor of the Traditional O’odham Leaders of Mexico and former vice-chairman of the Tohono O’odham Nation, have made the walk from the Nation’s lands in south central Arizona to Magdalena, in Sonora, Mexico.

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