Gila River Indian Community continues fight against new freeway

The South Mountains are seen from Laveen on the Gila River Indian Community in Arizona. Photo by loush555

The Gila River Indian Community is vowing to protect one of its most sacred sites from a new freeway in Arizona.

The tribe sued the Federal Highway Administration and the Arizona Department of Transportation in June 2015 in hopes of stopping the South Mountain Freeway. The route passes through Muhadagi Doag, one of Gila River's most important sites, and would destroy parts of the mountain, the lawsuit alleged.

Judge Diane Humetewa, however, rejected those arguments in an August 19 decision. She said the two agencies are taking steps to minimize harm to traditional cultural properties in the area but the tribe is going to appeal.

“The community will continue to challenge the decision allowing this project to proceed in order to protect the community’s borders, its members, and South Mountain, or Muhadagi Doag, one of the community’s most important and sacred natural resources.” Governor Stephen R. Lewis. ”The community cannot stand idle while the proposed freeway destroys South Mountain and its trails, shrines, and archaeological sites.”

The case will now go to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Read More on the Story:
Gila River tribe to appeal South Mountain Freeway decision (The Arizona Republic 8/31)
Arizona tribe continues fight against South Mountain Freeway (AP 8/31)
Gila River Indian Community Will Appeal Freeway Decision (KJZZ 8/30)
Gila River tribe to appeal court decision on Loop 202 construction (The Phoenix Business Journal 8/30)

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