Toothpaste Found in Sonoran Desert


Small, travel-sized tube of Colgate Total Whitening Toothpaste. It is a white tube and cap with ridges and has blue sides and bears gray Spanish and English font on front fascia. The 22 mL tube is approximately half full and was collected in a remote part of the Sonoran Desert near the Mexican border. The past 20 years has seen a rise in unauthorized border crossing, border enforcement procedures, and debates about who and how migrants should be let into the country.

As the US federal immigration enforcement strategy known as Prevention Through Deterrence (PTD) increased the security presence around urban ports of entry in the mid-1990s, there was a shift in undocumented migration towards more remote regions of the American Southwest. Those making the perilous journey through this inhospitable desert landscape faced extreme temperatures (summer temperatures as high as 100° F/38° C and winter temperatures approaching freezing), rugged terrain, abuse from coyotes (human smugglers), and the risk of getting caught by the Border Patrol.

The site where this was found likely served as a way station used by human smugglers or a site of Border Patrol apprehension. Typical items found at these sites include personal hygiene products such as this toothbrush, backpacks, excess clothes, and empty water bottles.

Place Made: United States: Arizona

See more items in: Home and Community Life: Ethnic, Many Voices, One Nation

Exhibition: Many Voices, One Nation

Exhibition Location: National Museum of American History

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: 2013.3012.06Accession Number: 2013.3012Catalog Number: 2013.3012.06

Object Name: toothpaste

Physical Description: plastic (overall mater; single or multi-hued designationial; material)Measurements: overall: 4 in; 10.16 cm


Record Id: nmah_1449977

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