Friday, June 3, 2011

TONATIERRA: South Mountain Freeway extension of the Loop 202

Community Development Institute
PO Box 24009  Phoenix, AZ 85074

June 3, 2011

ADOT Five Year Program
Communication and Community Partnerships
206 South 17th Avenue
Phoenix, AZ 85007

Re:  South Mountain Freeway extension to the Loop 202

To all concerned:

Please take this comment as opposition to the South Mountain extensions to the loop 202 Freeway under consideration by ADOT, and in support of the NO BUILD option.  As an urban community based organization of Indigenous Peoples, we relate to the ancestral ties that the O’odham Nations of the territory maintain with Muadag Do’ag (South Mountain) as a Traditional Sacred Site, and are particularly concerned with relevant issues being brought forward by members of the Gila River Indian Community regarding the negative impact of the proposed projects.

As guardians of the sacredness and vital spiritual significance that Muadag Do’ag has had for millennia for the Indigenous Peoples of the O’odham Nations, and by extended relations with all Indigenous Peoples, it is fundamental that the traditional O’dham voice of the Gila River Community members and the O’0dham Nations of the territory be considered and respected not only as members and rights-holders within the GRIC reservation system, but as Guardians of the Rights of Mother Earth.

We are beyond the turning point and well into the tipping point of the climate crisis globally, but the impact of further economic development in the region that would sacrifice the cultural, spiritual, and ecological well being of our communities and future generations, begins with an assault on the Sacredness of the Earth itself and her children: Those who still see with the Sacred Sight of the original instructions of Creation the Spirit of Muadag Do’ag.

Vandana Shiva has stated:

When we think of wars in our times, our minds turn to Iraq and Afghanistan. But the bigger war is the war against the planet. This war has its roots in an economy that fails to respect ecological and ethical limits – limits to inequality, limits to injustice, limits to greed and economic concentration…..A handful of corporations and of powerful countries seeks to control the earth’s resources and transform the planet into a supermarket in which everything is for sale. They want to sell our water, genes, cells, organs, knowledge, cultures and future.  The war against the earth begins in the mind. Violent thoughts shape violent actions. Violent categories construct violent tools….”

Is violence against the Indigenous Peoples of the O’odham Nations the official policy of the Arizona Department of Transportation planners who are proposing the two routes of extension for the 202 loop?  While we are told that one of the routes is “off reservation” we have not been given the legal evidence of the mechanisms that reduced the traditional territories of the O’odham Nations to the present reservation boundaries.  Until this occurs, such planning processes will continue to be flawed and suspect in not only historical and legal terms, but financial concerns may be raised when bond ratings related to the ADOT Regional Transportation Plan-Freeway Plan (RTPFP) come under question due to lack of due diligence and violations of due process.

Planning without effective participation is not democracy, and at worse can be corruption and collusion.  It is of great concern that we are told that at a community outreach meeting on Saturday May 7th, 2011, at the District 6 Learning Center that one community elder stated:

“All we’ve been hearing is that this freeway is going to happen and we don’t have any say. It seems like the Community’s voice is being overlooked.”  

We are also aware that there is a call by Gila River Community Members to uphold past Community resolutions against the freeway, and are supporting a community referendum that calls for “No Build” on GRIC tribal land.

Let us clarify at this point:

The reference to “GRIC tribal land” is a designation that projects the territorial jurisdiction of the Gila River Indian Community as a US federally recognized Native American tribe with status under the 1934 Howard Wheeler Act enacting a tribal council of government established pursuant to the Commerce Clause of the US Constitution which states:

(Article I, Section 8, Clause 3). The United States Congress shall have power "To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes".

The realm of traditional jurisprudence which emanates from Muadag Do’ag, is a jurisdiction of interdependent responsibilities that is millennial in continuity, not limited by the colonizing superstructures of the states of the Americas established under the Doctrine of Discovery, and supersedes the local and state jurisdictions of Arizona.  From this rights holder position, and as stated in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, adopted on September 13, 2007 and reaffirmed by formal resolution of the Gila River Tribal Council on May 21, 2008:

Article 18
Indigenous peoples have the right to participate in decision-making in matters which would affect their rights, through representatives chosen by themselves in accordance with their own procedures, as well as to maintain and develop their own indigenous decision-making institutions.

Therefore, may we respectfully submit that until the voice and position of the Traditional O’odham Nations of the territory is acknowledged and integrated into the planning processes with full implementation of the principle of Free, Prior and Informed Consent for the South Mountain Freeway extension to Loop 202, we can only oppose these projects as acts of violence in concept, plan, and practice in violation of the Right of Self Determination of Indigenous Peoples.

Further may we at this point also recommend that the Principles and Process of the Arizona Community Commerce Compact be brought forward in order to address these issues proactively with an overarching purpose and strategy intended to guide the realization of a Just and Sustainable Economy for Arizona.

  • The Community Commerce Compact is an instrument of a long range, generational Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy that purposefully intends to drive the future of Arizona into a Just and Sustainable Economy.

  •  The underlying values of Respect for the Rights of Mother Earth, as fundamental to any sustainable economic development plan, is the point of departure and continuous evaluation for the Community Commerce Compact.

  • The recognition and implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as an instrument of contemporary international Human Rights Law is fundamental to the Arizona Community Commerce Compact.

  • The Principles of Tocualnemiliztli, Living with Wellness, shall be integrated into the Regional Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy.

Respectfully submitted,

Tupac Enrique Acosta, Yaotachcauh 
Tlahtokan Nahuacalli

Eve Reyes-Aguirre, Calpixqui
Tlahtokan Nahuacalli 
Rafael Reyes, Tenamaztli – Quetzalcoatl 
Tlahtokan Nahuacalli

Lupe Parra, Tenamaztli - Huitzilopochtli
Tlahtokan Nahuacalli

Mario Chihuahua, Tenamaztli-Tezcatlipoca
Tlahtokan Nahuacalli

Embassy of Indigenous Peoples

A project of

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