Pangea continues to push for Loop 202, while GRIC leadership sits on the sidelines – Community members wonder why No Build vote is being ignore?

October 17, 2012
For immediate release

Pangea continues to push for Loop 202, while GRIC leadership sits on the sidelines

Community members wonder why No Build vote is being ignored

Sacaton, AZ- On February 7, 2012, the Gila River Indian Community (GRIC) celebrated a major milestone for the protection of sacred sites, the environment, and community health with a 720 to 603 vote for the No Build option in the community-wide single-issue vote regarding the proposed South Mountain Loop 202 freeway extension. The No Build ballot option allowed GRIC to advocate for the freeway extension to not be built at all. The No Build victory also ensured the freeway would not be built within the GRIC boundaries. Despite the community’s majority No Build stance, pro-freeway supporters continue to disregard the community’s voice and future by pushing for the Loop 202 freeway to be built on tribal lands. Today’s GRIC tribal council meeting will once again be the battleground over the proposed Loop 202 freeway extension.

For the past month, Tempe-based land development corporation Pangea, LLC, and the Pecos Landowners Association (PLA), have been endorsing an initiative for yet another vote on the Loop 202, and for a proposed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) granting Pangea and its investors the exclusive rights to develop tribal lands on the western end of GRIC, with the approval of the GRIC Legislative Standing Committee (LSC) and tribal council.

On September 12, Pangea and PLA collectively submitted the new voting initiative and MOU as a joint item at LSC. Both were sent to GRIC tribal council September 19, where it was recommended that the item be split into two separate items, and which was sent back to LSC. On September 26, Joey Perez of Pangea resubmitted the MOU to LSC, and on September 27, PLA submitted the signatures on their pro-freeway initiative to GRIC Community Council Secretary’s Office (CCSO).

While the signatures on the initiative for another Loop 202 vote have yet to be verified by the GRIC CCSO, both Pangea and the PLA continue to ask GRIC council members to speed up the process of signature verification, despite ongoing concerns regarding how the corporation obtained signatures with cash payments. Other questions about the legitimacy of its campaign have yet to be answered. Several families have stated that a Pangea representative got their signatures by deception; saying the initiative was to collect signatures for a No Build option. In another family, an elder suffering from senile dementia signed away her lands to Pangea when she was home alone.

The PLA and Pangea have been misleading landowners in effort to have the No Build vote rescinded, effectively bringing the on-reservation freeway alignment back on the table. In exchange for landowner consent, Pangea claims they will provide immediate and long-term lease payments to landowners from the profits generated by projects, such the master-planned City Concept proposed for ands south of Ahwatukee. Gila River landowners have also been targeted by the Pangea corporation with ‘good-faith’ payments of $50 for their consent signatures and have been bribed to attend tribal government meetings with $500 raffle prizes, in which a landowner’s chances of winning increase for every tribal government meeting attended by landowners. In addition, Pangea has adopted a misinformation campaign that downplays the negative health impacts of the freeway, and which makes no mention of the destruction of traditional cultural properties that are in the path of the freeway and the Pangea City Concept.

Pangea and the freeway supporters deceive members of GRIC when they say that the freeway will be built, regardless of what Gila River has voted in the past. The No Build option for the freeway is an option that is federally mandated to be considered and assessed by the Federal Highways Administration. In addition, until the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) regarding the proposed freeway extension is released in 2013, no state or federal agency, including tribal government, can move forward on approving any route of the proposed freeway. Private corporations, such as Pangea, cannot approve routes of publicly funded freeways. The power to approve or reject the freeway lies in the people of Gila River, who would be affected by the freeway. The EIS is a document that is required by law to be written and researched when a federally funded project impacts the environment, and once the EIS is released, if ten or more Gila River residents request a hearing to voice their concerns, the United States Environmental Protection Agency has to hold public hearings in Gila River, as part of a formal process to address those concerns. This is when the freeway can be stopped.

Additionally, concerns raised before the February 2012 vote regarding the proposed freeway’s overall impacts have been dismissed by the Pangea corporation and by the PLA. In particular, the impact the proposed freeway would have on Muhadag Do’ag (South Mountain), which is a sacred site for all the O’odham tribes, has been downplayed by Pangea. The company’s campaign to “Save the Mountain” ignores the fact that by building the City Concept at the mountain’s base the cultural practices of the Gila River people will effectively end.

Despite serious concerns raised by GRIC members, the tribal council and Governor Greg Mendoza have not taken an active role in investigating Pangea or the PLA’s questionable methods of gathering initiative signatures. By considering yet another vote to rescind a previous vote from less than ten months ago, GRIC leadership has not supported last February’s No Build victory. In response, No Build supporters made up of District 6 residents, grassroots groups such as Gila River Against Loop 202 (GRAL202), Gila River Alliance for Clean Environment (GRACE), and other GRIC members have called for transparency and accountability from both Pangea and the PLA, as well as from the GRIC tribal council and Governor Mendoza.

At the time of the February vote, the sitting Tempe Mayor and Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) Chair Hugh Hallman was forced to admit that the grassroots push to get the No Build option recognized was effective. In a statement by Hallman the day following the February vote, he conceded that “this vote is a significant milestone in the process and allows us to focus our efforts now exclusively on the Pecos Road alignment. The no-build option is also an alternative.”

When politicians from the city can admit that No Build remains an alternative to the freeway, it is no wonder that concerned GRIC members are asking why the tribal leadership has yet to commit GRIC’s sovereign powers to protect Muhadag Do’ag, the environment, and the community’s health. Where is the transparency and leadership that Governor Greg Mendoza ran his campaign on? Why is tribal council not fighting for their constituents who voted for the successful No Build option?

The demand for GRIC tribal leadership to uphold No Build as the voice of the community was made clear last February with the No Build victory, because the people know that not building the freeway is the only alternative which will protect Muhadag Do’ag, the environment, and community health.

Today’s tribal council meeting will once again give GRIC tribal officials the opportunity to hold Pangea and the PLA accountable to its illegitimate campaign. Today, our tribal leadership has another opportunity to work for the people, not for a land development corporation, by reaffirming the No Build voice of GRIC members.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

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.
Starla Zeek

Posted in Community | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Video about South Mountain Freeway

Video from GRIC member and District 6 landowner Lori Thomas.

Posted in Community, Media, Research | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Pangea Exposed!

The Pecos Landowners Association (PLA) has had longstanding ties to Pangea, but under a recent cloud of suspicion about business practices Pangea has used to get D6 landowners to sign away their lands for a 202 right of way, the PLA announced that they have broken ties with Pangea. A complaint was brought to D6 officals that Pangea went to the home of an elder with dementia, and acquired her signature on a contract authorizing Pangea to develop her lands for a 202 right of way.

The PLA and Pangea’s relationship has been under suspicion since its very beginning, not just from just GRAL202 but also from Community members who have received letters from Pangea they only have 30 days to sign a Pangea contract signing away their lands. When landowners need help understanding what that letter means to their land rights, the PLA is where they are directed. However, Community member Nathan Percharo was the PLA Chairman in 2011, when the 202 planning was almost all that the PLA worked on, and Percharo still provides consulting services to Pangea, as is stated on their website. Is that legal, for Percharo to be on Pangea’s payroll for consulting services, as he advises D6 landowners on zoning and land use issues?

Why is Pangea operating in the dark, and how did they become such a player in the issue, when we don’t know anything about them? Joey Perez is a Community member who says he owns Pangea, but he is not listed as the owner on the Pangea website. He is, however, listed as the owner of Initial Impressions, a casino marketing agency that has the same business address as Pangea. Initial Impressions boasts that they can “organize a covert invasion of a small or large country”.

Off Pangea's own website

Are those Pangea’s plans, to literally pave and bulldoze the way for yet another casino takeover in Gila River? When will our leadership move beyond casinos, and casino hotels to give us sustainable development and meaningful skills to pass down to our families? Joey Perez is from Blackwater, where he may not have learned much about the balance between Muhadag Do’ag and the Estrella mountain range in our west end. Do we want his money and power influencing the 202 issue? Do we Community members really believe we are just one casino away from solving all our economic problems?

We are a grassroots campaign against the freeway, and all of our flyers, pamphlets, zines etc are printed out of our own pockets, in black and white on plain paper, donated by Community members at times, other times paid for by us. We don’t have the money to do more than that. Where did the Pecos Landowners Association, a non-profit organization, get the money to print out full color handouts on thick cardstock? Those cost a lot of money. Where does the non-profit PLA get the money to offer rides to the polls on February 7th? Pangea has money.

This Yes202 ad appered in the Dec and Jan editions of the Gila River Indian News, with no email or phone contact.

Link to Pangea’s website:

We recently wrote this editorial in the Gila River Indian News to expose Pangea. In the same issue of the GRIN, we also ran a NO BUILD ad. Please pick up a copy of the GRIN, and ***please donate*** to help us cover the costs of our ad on page two of the January 2012 GRIN. As of today, January 22, we still do not have enough money to pay the GRIN for our ad.


The December 2011 edition of the Gila River Indian News featured a paid advertisement from a campaign calling itself 202 Yes. A company called Pangea that leases Native American land for profit is behind the 202 Yes campaign. Pangea paid Initial Impressions, an advertising agency that specializes in marketing Native American casinos, to design the ad. Pangea and Initial Impressions work hand-in-hand at the same physical address in Tempe.

Pangea refers to themselves as GRIC landowners, but Pangea is actually a corporation that is pressuring GRIC landowners to lease their lands to Pangea for development. Pangea’s website, designed by their casino marketing friends at Initial Impressions, announces their goals to build a master-planned city in District Six, which Pangea refers to as nothing but “acres of undeveloped land” in a prime location for Pangea’s City Concept.

Our responses to Pangea’s ad. Responses from O’odham who are for NO BUILD.

*202 Yes states that the on-reservation option saves the mountain.
In fact, both proposed freeway alignments destroy the mountain. The on-reservation alignment will force the loss of more than 600 acres of GRIC lands at the base of South Mountain (source: Kimberly Dutcher, GRIC Law Office). These sites are full of cultural significance, and The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) knows this. By destroying the foothills of Muhadag Do’ag, we destroy the entire mountain, as well as Muhadag Do’ag’s connection to the Estrellas. And what about the Pee Posh and O’odham families that would fall victim to the on-reservation alignment, and lose their homes to the freeway?

*202 Yes states that by allowing the on-reservation alignment to be built, GRIC has a say in the noise control, pollution, and construction costs of the freeway extension.
In fact, any and all cost and environmental analysis has already been done by HDR Engineering, an international consulting firm handpicked by the Arizona Department of Transportation/ADOT without the input of GRIC. HDR and ADOT also share office space. HDR completed a draft environmental assessment in 1987 that has not made been made available to Gila River. The obvious question is–why not?

HDR was supposed to finish the EIS in 2006 (Environmental Impact Statement, which describes the freeway’s impact to our air quality, cultural sites, groundwater, displacement of homes, plant and animal life, etc), but they have still not released the EIS to our Community. GRIC will not have a say in the noise control, pollution control measures or construction costs of this freeway extension…we can only make comments on the EIS that HDR is doing for ADOT. A vote for NO BUILD will remind ADOT that Gila River is sovereign, and we will have our say. If neither ADOT or HDR have made an effort to disclose past environmental findings to our Community, with the freeway proposals still in limbo, why should anybody in Gila River believe they will do right after a yes vote?

*202 Yes states that NO BUILD is not an option, because Maricopa County voters approved it in 2005, through the passing of Proposition 400.
In fact, Proposition 400 merely provided the State with partial funding for a freeway, by authorizing a sales tax, with revenues from the tax going to freeway planning. It did not authorize the South Mountain extension of the 202. Furthermore, due to rising construction costs and decreasing sales tax revenues, the state of Arizona is facing a 5.3 billion dollar shortfall for freeway planning. (source: Arizona Republic, March 9, 2009 “Freeway decision put off until 2011”).

* 202 Yes states that NO BUILD is not an option.
In fact, ADOT’s own website states the following, from a section about the South Mountain extension to the 202:
14. Is it possible that nothing will be built?
Yes, that is one of the options being studied. It is important to recognize that impacts can occur by doing nothing. The no-build alternative is being evaluated in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement. (source:

Another source: In a January 26, 2005 Arizona Republic article about the 202 titled, “ADOT Report Stirs Up Concern” the following point is made: “The environmental impact study and preliminary design of the project was begun in 2001 and is expected to be complete by 2006. If after the study’s completion the Maricopa County Association of Governments, the community and other governmental bodies deem the freeway unfeasible or unnecessary, the process will stop. The freeway will not be built.”

It is important to note that the State of Arizona has delayed the release of the 202 EIS for decades. The “due date” of 2006 was already severely behind the expected EIS completion date. In 1986, former Governor Donald Antone wrote a letter stating the Community’s concerns about environmental impacts of the proposed freeway. Governor Antone requested that the EIS be released to the Community before any other steps regarding the 202 freeway were to be made. Twenty five years later, Gila River is still awaiting the EIS.

* 202 Yes states that the freeway will bring economic development to Gila River.
In fact, there are no freeway exits planned within the boundaries of Gila River, and ADOT’s own report circulated within Gila River stated that the purpose of the freeway is to shorten east-west travel time by 17-20 minutes for Phoenix area commuters.

This freeway proposal is not for our benefit. The off-reservation option will cut a 40-story high, 200-yard wide blast through our sacred mountain. The on-reservation alignment is just as bad, forcing families out of their homes, and forcing us to give up 600 acres of our lands with no guarantees of a land swap. If approved, both alignments would bring cancer-causing emissions to the west end, as well as release chemicals into the air that cause deficits in lung function for our children as they age (source:  The Lancet, January 2007, “Effect of exposure to traffic on lung development from 10 to 18 years of age: a cohort study”).

The Loop 202 should not be extended anywhere at all! Either proposal for the 202 would be a killing zone, bringing us the footprint of an 8-lane freeway where nothing grows, all plant and animal habitats in the footprint would be destroyed, and our groundwater and air would be polluted with carbon emissions, nitrogen dioxide, and other exhaust pollutants. The two proposed routes for the 202 extension are less than 1/4 mile apart in some areas, and both routes would come close to Gila Crossing, where our children would breathe in freeway pollution that harms brain development. In addition, because the two routes are so similar, our Creator’s home would be forever destroyed if either Loop 202 proposal is approved.

We are O’odham who believe in NO BUILD, and we hope that you are too. The evenings in Komadk this time of year, the night air is sweet and cold. You do not hear waves of freeway traffic rushing by. Our skies are dark, so you can clearly see the stars twinkling over the Estrellas. No noise pollution, no freeway lighting, no haze of smog blanketing the desert. We hope to keep it this way for our children, our nieces and nephews, and their unborn children and grandchildren.

Please attend the January 14th forum, 9:00 am to 3:00 pm at the Sacaton Boys and Girls Club and voice your opposition to the South Mountain extension to the 202. And please save the date for the January 21st 202 forum in D6, at the Komatke Boys and Girls Club, 9:00 am to 3:00pm. Lunch will be served at both forums.

Please contact us for more information on how you can help support NO BUILD before the February 7th vote at home.


GRAL202 ad in January edition of the GRIN

Posted in Research | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Exposed! City of Phoenix Councilman Sal DiCiccio and why he wants the Loop 202

If you needed more evidence that the GRIC 202 referendum plays right into the agenda of outsiders who desperately want the freeway built, here it is.

In this email below from Phoenix Councilman Sal DiCiccio, there is only concern for saving homes in Ahwatukee, and there is no mention of the O’odham and Pee Posh families who would lose their homesites to 202 right of ways. There is no mention of the neighborhood in District Six where we have three schools, Gila Crossing, D6 Head Start and D6 Early Head Start, right in the path of freeway pollution.

DiCiccio’s email also notes that South Mountain Park is a mountain preserve, meaning that it has protection from development because of its status as a city park. This is very important—a NO BUILD vote stops the proposed on-reservation alignment, and because there is opposition in Maricopa County to destroying a city park (which happens to be a mountain sacred to us), there are people who will fight against the proposed freeway being built off the reservation.

Most importantly, in this email to his supporters, Sal DiCiccio is congratulating his team for pressuring Gila River to consider the freeway on our lands. This is another sign that this freeway is not for us…it is for them. They are the ones who want it, not us.

Links of interests too:

——Original Message——
From: Councilman Sal DiCiccio
Subject: Freeway: Great news, Tribal vote coming
Sent: Jul 20, 2011 5:02 PM

Today we have great news on the South Mountain Freeway. Our neighbors to the south, the Gila River Indian Community, have agreed to take the issue directly to their voters. This was done primary thanks to the efforts of many people in our community once again working together to solve this important issue facing our neighborhoods.

As you may know, the city of Phoenix has absolutely no say in the location of the freeway. But I assembled a group of our leaders to work with the state to a) get Arizona to begin discussions with the Tribe and b) find any alternative other than Pecos Road. We assembled community leaders who supported and who opposed the freeway, and they came up with a direction that unified our community once again.

And, because of our unity, the state began in earnest direct and real conversations with the Tribe that has led to this outcome. We still have a long way to go, but we are much further than we have ever been to finding a solution that benefits our community as a whole – a solution that will keep homes and a neighborhood from being destroyed, a mountain preserve from being sliced in half, a solution that could save taxpayers’ money and provide a more environmentally friendly corridor.

Thanks from the entire community goes out to the people who forged a coalition of Ahwatukee people to enable solutions for this issue. They are Chad Blostone, Susi Fathauer, Mary Youhanaie, Mike Hinz, Pat Lawlis, Clay Schad, Terri Kimble, Max Masel, Jaime Molera and Rick Savagian. And a special thanks to Jim Joachim, whose personal effort and determination helped keep this issue alive. Please pass this on to the neighbors in our community.

Posted in Research | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

REMINDER: Second forum on Loop 202 tomorrow at D6 Komatke Boys and Girls Club—9am

Second forum on January 21st, 9:00am -3:00pm at the Komatke Boys and Girls Club.The forums are put on by GRIC’s Tribal Elections Program.Representatives from the on-reservation alignment, off-reservation alignment, and the NO BUILD outcome will be presenting the facts.

Lunch will be served.

O’odham and Pee Posh: please save the dates of both forums, attend, and show your support for the NO BUILD outcome to the South Mountain extension to the 202.

GRAL202 community meeting back in May 2011


Posted in Community outreach | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

URGENT! ADOT Citizens Transportation Oversight Committee this Tuesday January 24 at 4pm

Gila River Against Loop 202 (GRAL202) would like to invite GRIC members, and non-GRIC supporters to attend the Citizens Transportation Oversight Committee (CTOC) meeting this Tuesday, January 24 at 4pm.

CTOC is the Citizens Transportation Oversight Committee, whose role is to review and make recommendations about proposed transportation projects that affect Maricopa County. CTOC is a group of seven citizens, not elected officials, and no CTOC member receives pay or reimbursement for their services as CTOC members. The CTOC chairperson is a voting member of MAG, a policy council that, among other duties, sets long range transportation policy in Maricopa County.

CTOC holds public hearings about transportation issues and advises the Governor of Arizona, ADOT Director, MAG, and the state legislature of public complaints or concerns about transportation projects in the state.

CTOC also receives complaints from the public concerning projects that are funded by Proposition 400, a transportation sales tax, and for projects that are funded in the RTP (Regional Transportation Plan).

 ***The proposed South Mountain Loop 202 freeway extension falls under both of those areas, being funded by Prop 400 and also being part of MAG’s Regional Transportation Plan (RTP).***

 Even though the proposed South Mountain Loop 202 extension is not an individual item on CTOC’s agenda Tuesday, it falls under three other agenda items on January 24th:

7) Long Range Transportation Plan 2010-2035—-Presentation of the State’s Long Range Transportation Plan for the next 25 years. This is a blueprint that looks into the future to determine how to plan for and fund transportation projects that keep up with Arizona’s growth. (For information and discussion)   ***Currently, the state of Arizona has a $5.3 billion shortfall in its transportation budget. It is recommended that the South Mountain extension to the 202 is dropped from the state’s transportation plan, in light of the fact that the recent housing and economic crisis has halted growth in Maricopa County.***

8) Maricopa County Transportation Projects—A report will be given on current and proposed work within Maricopa County’s Transportation Program. (For information and discussion)  ***The South Mountain extension to the 202 is a proposed transportation plan in Maricopa County.***

11) Recommendations for Future Agenda Items—CTOC Members may suggest items they would like to have placed on future meeting agendas. (For information and discussion) ***CTOC has the power to recommend that MAG put a moratorium on the South Mountain freeway proposal.***

Since the Loop 202 freeway falls within each agenda item, comments can be made during the time for each of the above agenda items, or can be made during the Call to the Public portion of the meeting. Or both. For the Call to the Public, a blue comment card must be filled out, and for comments that fall under agenda items (#7, #8, or #11) a yellow comment card must be filled out.

GRAL202 encourages GRIC members and non-GRIC supporters, to attend and make public comments against the proposed South Mountain freeway expansion at this meeting. Help your Community, protect your health, and think of all the Community members who might be unable to attend the meeting Tuesday, and use your voice to speak out for them.

GRAL202 highly encourages those in attendance to request that CTOC demands for MAG to put a moratorium on the South Mountain freeway proposal, and to demand that MAG present an Environmental Impact Statement to GRIC.
Additionally, ask CTOC to send a formal letter to GRIC recommending to indefinitely suspend the February 7 community vote due to the lack of an EIS, and the GRIC electorate being poorly informed of the consequences of the February 7th 202 referendum.

Tell CTOC members and CTOC chairperson Roc Arnett that GRIC does not want this freeway.

Tuesday January 24, 2012 4:00 pm—(We recommend to be there by 3:45pm so you can fill out public comment card)
Arizona Department of Transportation Auditorium
206 South 17th Ave Phoenix, AZ 85007
Posted in Action, Community outreach | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment