Thursday, October 22, 2009
10/21/09 SOUTH MOUNTAIN FREEWAY ACTION REPORT!
Today, a coalition of grassroots peoples from the Gila River Indian Community, and fellow supporters came to voice their concerns about the proposed Loop 202 Extension on or near tribal land.
O’odham Solidarity Across Borders Collective, Gila River Alliance for a Clean Environment (GRACE), Phoenix Class War Council, fellow tribal members, and concerned citizens took action against the Maricopa Associations of Governments (MAG) Transportation Policy Committee by attending the public comment meeting today.
The action was organized because we, the O'odham Solidarity Across Borders Collective feel that our voice, the O'odham/Pi'Posh voice, was left out of any discussions of any freeway route that would disturb our communities. We feel that we needed to bring our voice to this meetings because politicians such as Phoenix Councilman Sal DiCiccio and U.S. Representative Harry Mitchell suggested that the South Mountain Freeway should be built on Gila River land. Politicians that are so clearly disconnected with Akimel O'odham/Pi'Posh people, that they refer to us as “Gilas''. But still advocate for measures that would displace our communities, and disturb our O'odham Him'dag.
We, in solidarity, told the committee that we firmly oppose the entire South Mountain Freeway route, and if any route is finalized, it would be off tribal land. This route would signal the destruction of Ahwatukee and West Phoenix residents' houses, in addition to destroying a portion of South Mountain clearing the way for the route. This will leave the Gila River Indian Communtiy, specificity District 6 and 7 open to the many environmental and noise hazards that freeways bring, but most importantly, desecrate the many sacred sites on the mountain.
Our efforts were not just being heard inside the MAG buildings, but also seen outside with banners demonstrating our opposition.
The Transportation Policy Committee thankfully ended the idea of placing the route on Gila River itself, but did vote to finalize the route along the reservation boundary.
Now the finalized route must be voted on and approved by the MAG Regional Council this upcoming Wednesday October 28th, and then forwarded to the Arizona Department of Transportation where it will face an environmental impact study, public comments, and the many bureaucratic checks before any construction starts.
Meaning, it will provide us, the O'odham/Pi'Posh people, and our many supporters time to organize on a larger scale against this freeway. We are disappointed with MAG's current plan to continue with this project, but were not surprised they ruled the way they did. We do take victory that it will not be on the reservation, and that this action brought us all together to oppose the current proposal in days/months/years to come. This action today brought our voice to the debate. We are here, and we must take the right measures to attack this freeway and to build solidarity with all those who oppose it.
This is a call to our Ahwatukee, Laveen, West Phoenix brothers and sisters who feel the same as we do about the destruction that this freeway will bring.
This is also a call to our community to work in solidarity, with all those who we are sure to meet, to defeat it.
Today, is a call to action.
We, the O'odham Solidarity Across Borders Collective will oppose this freeway to end. But we will need everybody's help to make this happen.
We would like to thank all those who came out and supported. We will keep everybody informed of next weeks MAG Regional Council Vote.