I find myself constantly running headfirst into the conclusion that most white people have zero understanding of the concept of respect, unless they mean what they feel is owed to themselves. This has become a serious problem at the camp, but I’m not quite up to going in to that one yet, I’m still trying to tamp my anger down. Heading up the worst of the worst when it comes to arrogant white people who think they owe no one or no thing any respect, it’s our favourite: cops. The Tonoho O’odham, Ahwatukee, and Gila River communities have been fighting to protect Moadag Do’ag (South Mountain) in Phoenix, Arizona. This is an age old story. Indians fight to protect what is important to them, government rolls over them, most people are ignorant of the ongoing fights of indigenous people everywhere, and don’t much care, white people either sneer or try to take over and play saviour, and cops act well outside their authority in putting Indigenous people down. Once again, young people are active in trying to preserve their culture, and to protect their lands, and the lesson they learned? No native voices, please.
Calling for the end to the pre-construction of a six-lane highway that will parallel and cut through the southwestern part of a sacred mountain, the Ahwatukee and the Gila River Indian community hopes to deliver a message to the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) that the fight to protect Moadag Do’ag (South Mountain) in Phoenix, Arizona is far from over.
However, before they could share their views with the agencies involved, local authorities told community members — which included the Protecting Arizona Resources and Children organization, approximately 20 O’odham runners from the Gila River Indian Community and others — that their sacred prayer items would not be allowed into the ADOT community meeting.
Prior to the meeting, the community, which is also concerned that the highway is set to parallel the community of Ahwatukee and the Gila River Indian Community reservation boundaries, hosted a 10-mile prayer run from an encampment at the sacred mountain Moadag Thadiwa to Desert Vista High School in Ahwatukee, Arizona.
The public meeting, sponsored by ADOT and Connect 202, was a preliminary design meeting to gather feedback and the opinions of community members.
The peaceful group arrived for the meeting Tuesday evening, but were denied entrance to the facility by police. At first, the police stated the prayer staff carried by the O’odham runners was not allowed in the meeting because it could be considered a weapon. But when members of the group volunteered to leave their staff and prayer sticks outside, the police allegedly changed their rules.
Another runner who was holding a single eagle feather was then told the group was not allowed to attend the public meeting because Desert Vista High School doesn’t allow religious items onto their campus.
The group attempted to explain the items were for prayer but the police officers did not allow passage.
One member of the group went into the ADOT planning meeting without a prayer staff and announced the purpose of the prayer run and the need to protect Moadag. The police immediately escorted the speaker and others out of the building.
Outside, a runner sang the traditional O’odham song of Moadag and then it rained. The police then announced the group had to leave school property.
Amanda Blackhorse at ICTMN has the full story.
To read more about the fight to save Moadag and the current encampment at Moadag visit their Facebook page.