Gila River Sacrifices Against Loop 202 on Two Day Run and March

This is from the Gila River Against Loop 202 blog. It is a report back from the Sacrificing Against the Freeway event.

December 12, 2012
News Release
For immediate release

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Gila River Indian Community, AZ- On December 7th and 8th, members of the Gila River Indian Community (GRIC) showed their opposition to the proposed 202 freeway by holding the Sacrificing Against the Freeway gathering, a two day spiritual relay run and march. Participants of all ages and communities came to support No Build GRIC advocates by offering prayers and strength in the No Build effort against the proposed South Mountain Loop 202 freeway. No Build supporters from the Tohono O’odham Nation, Onk Akimel O’odham(Salt River), Dine (Navajo), Pee Posh (Maricopa), Apache, and Hopi tribes also helped run and carry prayers throughout the two days.

Jiivik Siiki, from Hashan Kehk village, one of the organizer of the gathering stated, “The primary reason why this action was called was to show everyone that our Himthag, our culture, has a major place in the decision as to whether or not this freeway should be placed on tribal land. It has also been reported that the supporters of the freeway are making statements that ‘our culture is dead’ and we felt the need to show them how strong our teachings are.”

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The gathering started with a 36 mile sunrise run from U’us Kehk (Blackwater) through Hashan Kehk, Gu’u Ki (Sacaton), and Vah-ki which ended at the southern base of the Estrella Mountains. The second day was a 15 mile sunrise run and march. The march went along the proposed route of the 202 extension in the community of Komtake, where marchers carried banners stating “Pangea Will Never Represent My Land Interest”, “Caution Loop 202 Biohazard”, and “Pangea Is Bad Business for Gila River And Ahwatukee”. The gathering ended near the base of Moahdahk Do’ag (South Mountain), where runners ran staffs to Moahdahk.

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In addition, non-Native supporters were welcomed to join the run, and several people from the Phoenix area also joined the run and march. Jezz Putnam, member of No South Mountain Freeway, a Phoenix-based 202 opposition group, ran for both days. Putnam said, “O’odham community members running side-by-side with supporters and then walking in step together for the Sunday march marks a true turning point in the fight against the expansion of the loop 202. The gathering exhibited the strength and unity inside of everyone who is willing to work together to defend the future of our communities from the threat of the freeway.”

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Throughout the two days, organizers stressed the importance of coming together through culture, and encouraged community members, especially the youth, to mobilize against the freeway.

“One of the many reasons I ran was to help strengthen and unite the community to fight as one for our land, just as our ancestors did before us. This freeway would be harmful to our families, and also to those who live near the proposed areas off Gila River” said 18 year old Summer Blackwater of Sacaton. “Pangea and other pro-freeway members must listen to us, and respect our wishes to not build this freeway. We’re not trying to force a road through anyone’s yards and homes. Why must they do exactly that to our community?”

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For the rest of this release please see:
Gila River Against Loop 202

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