“This is a rich project with potential to tell a story about immigration in a new, powerful way that will appeal to emotions and intellect. It encourages active involvement and personal contemplation through the act of creating the toe tags in a way that is visceral.”

-Alyssa Melby

What is Hostile Terrain 94?

For more information, be sure to visit the Undocumented Migration Project website:


Hostile Terrain 94 (HT94) is a participatory art project sponsored and organized by the Undocumented Migration Project (UMP), a non-profit research-art-education-media collective, directed by anthropologist Jason De León. The exhibition is composed of over 3,200 handwritten toe tags that represent migrants who have died trying to cross the Sonoran Desert of Arizona between the mid-1990s and 2019.


The Hostile Terrain 94 team at St. Olaf proceeds with ongoing programming to raise awareness about migrant death at the US/Mexico border. To explore activities visit our events page.

I cannot imagine dying and then getting buried in a foreign land where your close ones are not with you. I felt as if I was trying to keep what is left of them alive. It is crazy to me that there are people who could be waiting to hear from them but they will never know.

Virtual Toe Tag Participant


St. Olaf College challenges community members to examine faith and values, to be inclusive and to a globally engaged community. Hostile Terrain 94 affords all of us the opportunity to take these goals and put them into practice. The project pulls together members of the community from different disciplines, departments and backgrounds, all passionate about raising awareness, participating in advocacy for migrant communities and creating space for the commemoration of those that have lost their lives and their families.