GRIC member Starla Zeek responds to the AZ Republic article “Gila River tribe should vote to allow freeway on its land”

In response to the Arizona Republic’s recent article titled “Opinion: Gila River tribe should vote to allow freeway on its land”, GRIC member Starla Zeek asked us to post her comment’s she sent in response to the Republic’s “media” hit towards GRIC.

I’m sorry but I feel it necessary to make some response to your editor opinion article regarding the loop 202 construction on tribal land. As a tribal member I found this article to be extremely offensive and it’s presentation to be undeniably biased against our community. Making statements about it being a “no brainier” without once reviewing the extensive negative impacts that this freeway would have on our lives, our land, or our community.

This article in the very beginning presented the tribe as being the ones that would be responsible for the destruction of the Ahwatukee church and the homes and building that are in the path of this freeway. This is an unfair characterization considering not only were we NOT responsible on any level for the proposal of the freeway or its path, a large part of the community has been continuing to fight for years for no construction at all. Which would save all the concerned parties. Seriously, all this debate is regarding a freeway that would shave off what? An estimated fifteen minutes or so?

We are expected to give up more than 600 acres of a shrinking land that’s already riddled with state highways and freeways.

Everyone talks of the opportunities that will be made by this construction. Will these opportunities be similar to those presented by the other freeways and highways that cross our land? The I-10 crosses my family’s land in at least 2 areas. Both of those allotments are now virtually useless. The same on Highway 87. The only thing that they have really brought us is higher incidence of accidents and imported pollution, violence and litter. We have enough of this on our own without bringing it in from the outside.

I live just off of a major state roadway. The week before Christmas a man from one of the surrounding towns decided to pull off that road onto the road to my home. He parked behind the trees where my 4 children play and killed himself. There are high speed car chases on a regular basis flying by my home, car accidents and breakdowns all the time right outside my home. There is continuous traffic noise and pollution not to mention the numbers of scary strangers that decide to just pull of the road and do goodness knows what in my driveway.

The sad thing is this location is the best choice we have in my family’s land. The 1-10 freeway, Highway 87, State Route 587 (which for those that don’t know is the stretch of road from Arizona Ave. south to I-10) and their access and clearance areas have rendered our other familial lands unusable.

We receive no compensation for any of this. No help trying to remedy this or clean any of it up. There is no extra protection from the myriad of strangers wondering thru or the cars flying by.

The bottom line is that just as in past generations we are overlooked, disregarded, and uncared for. We are too accostumed to being presented in this same negative light that you are attempting to project. You would think that in this day and age we would finally be beyond that but here you are, a major publisher of news here, following in the footsteps of so many of those reporters of the past printing there stories of the ignorant savages.
Sincerely,
Starla Zeek

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About GILA RIVER AGAINST LOOP 202

Welcome All! Please support ongoing efforts to protect Gila River Indian Community's vital connection with Muhadag Do'ag (South Mountain) and to ensure the mental, spiritual, and physical well-being of today's and tomorrow's Community members. The proposed Loop 202 extension adversely affects the physical and spiritual integrity of Muhadag Do'ag, traditional cultural properties associated with the mountain, and all beings. Both proposed freeway alignments are detrimental to the O'odham & Pee Posh, cutting the bloodline to do'ag. Governor Rhode$ only cares about economic development, not the will of the people, who have formally decreed NO LOOP 202 in 2000 and 2005. Don't compromise your beliefs; stand for something or fall for anything. ~No 202~
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2 Responses to GRIC member Starla Zeek responds to the AZ Republic article “Gila River tribe should vote to allow freeway on its land”

  1. I did a presentation in my class yesterday and I mentioned the No Build 202. A lot of the people in that class had no idea that this was going on. They said that this can not happen because the Indigenous people are a Nation. Against the Human Rights Declaration, as they barely recognize the Indigenous Rights Declaration. I have also written to President Obama stating the concerns of the Indigenous people and that we need help. He will be in Chandler this afternoon. I have the letter that he wrote back and I could send it to you or anyone who is in support of the Indigenous People.My email is pwinder@asu.edu
    Good Luck
    Paulette (ASU student)

  2. Chuck Benson says:

    Great response Starla Z.! Well said!

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