Connect with us


Fight to protect Moahdak Do’ag (South Mountain) continues



By Amanda Blackhorse, @blackhorse_a
Traduction française

The past three weeks have been a pivotal time in the fight to protect mother earth and sacred sites. As many people gather in Standing Rock to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline, there is similar struggle happening in Phoenix, Arizona – the fight to protect sacred mountain, Moahdak Do’ag (South Mountain).

save south mountain

Moahdak Do’ag (South Mountain), photo by Amanda Blackhorse

On August 19, 2016, U.S. Federal District Judge Diane Humetewa ruled the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) could move forward with construction on proposed loop 202, a six-lane highway that will cut through the southwest part of the mountain. It will also parallel the community of Ahwatukee and the Gila River Indian Community (GRIC). Judge Humetewa ruled that the plaintiffs in the case failed to prove the proposed highway would be damaging to the communities represented.

Our O’odham relatives [Gila River Indian Community, Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community, Ak-Chin, and The Tohono O’odham] hold Moahdak Do’ag sacred and as a lifeway. Gila River Indian Community tribal members have been fighting the proposed loop 202 for years.

In the summer of 2015, the Gila River Indian Community (GRIC) and Protecting Arizona’s Resources and Children (PARC) filed suit in federal court against ADOT and the FHA citing National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) violations, adverse environmental impacts to the community, and desecration of sacred sites. Soon after, the two parties also filed for an emergency injunction to stop the pre-construction of the highway but was denied by the judge citing the parties failed to provide irreparable harm if construction were to continue.

The response from the community of Ahwatukee, GRIC, and GRIC tribal members was strong. PARC President Pat Lawlis called the ruling “unbelievable” in a press statement issued by PARC. She stated, “it unfortunately appears that there was more at play than a proper application of relevant facts to the law. The Court ruled that ADOT and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) were permitted to use extremely wide discretion in planning the SMF and were therefore not violating federal law.”

PARC also stated they would file an appeal to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. PARC et. al., a coalition of community members of Ahwatukee and environmental advocacy groups, seek to protect the community of Ahwatukee from the adverse impacts the highway will have on the community and land.

Governor Stephen Roe Lewis of the Gila River Indian Community issued a statement on his Facebook page, “To say our people are disappointed hardly expresses how deeply we feel about the potential loss of this sacred mountain range. This is simply unacceptable.”

GRIC tribal members showed their opposition through protest on Monday following the Judge’s decision. The protest was held at an ADOT planning meeting in Ahwatukee. At least 6 members of the community showed up with signs, banners, singing a traditional O’odham song about Moag dak Doag, they were met with applause by the Ahwatukee community.

“Today I am proud of our Council, Community activists, Elders, and concerned Community members who supported our Community to move forward in this historic fight to save Muhadagi Doag! The challenge before us is daunting, but when we come together with good hearts and clear minds, the power of our UNITY can overcome those extreme obstacles in our path as we answer the call of our ancestors.” – Governor Stephen Roe Lewis of the Gila River Indian Community

Two tribal members in attendance, Linda Paloma Allen and Andrew Pedro have been at the forefront of the fight against the 202 build for years. Pedro explained his disappointment with Judge Humetewa’s ruling stating, “As another indigenous person you would expect them to understand the importance of such places, but this shows that colonial institution’s main purpose is to enforce and reaffirm colonial law.” He says that being greeted with applause from Ahwatukee community members shows all people, Native or not is opposed to this freeway.

Allen stated the fight to save the mountain is not only for the Native people but also for a system change. She stated, “Indigenous people are tired of outside interests not understanding how deeply we are connected to our land and what we will do to defend it. In North Dakota, it’s Energy Transfer Partners and the Dakota Access Pipeline. In Arizona, it’s Arizona Department of Transportation, Snowbowl, and Resolution Copper. It’s the same injustice since 1492”.

Later in the week, the Gila River Indian Community council called a special council meeting to discuss many pressing issues as well as their continued fight to stop the Loop 202. Although the discussion of the highway was not open to the public, I was able to sit in the beginning of the session and witnessed the GRIC tribal council pass a resolution to support the continued fight to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota.

After the meeting was held, Governor Lewis issued a statement about the Loop 202: “Today I am proud of our Council, Community activists, Elders, and concerned Community members who supported our Community to move forward in this historic fight to save Muhadagi Doag! The challenge before us is daunting, but when we come together with good hearts and clear minds, the power of our UNITY can overcome those extreme obstacles in our path as we answer the call of our ancestors.”

Although Judge Humetewa’s recent ruling was not in the favor of GRIC or GRIC tribal members, Pedro states there seems to be more interest from tribal members to take part in this issue. “Though it has been a time of pain, the O’odham people will not take it laying down. So if ADOT wants a showdown, they are going to get one.”

Gila River Against Loop 202:
Akimel O’odham Youth Collective:

amanda blackhorseAmanda Blackhorse (Diné) from Big Mountain and Kayenta, Arizona is a social worker and plaintiff in Pro Football vs. Blackhorse et. al. In 2014 Amanda and her fellow co-plaintiffs won their petition in the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board to cancelled the federal registrations (r*dsk*ns) of the Washington NFL team. 

Read Amanda Blackhorse’s previous coverage:

Continue Reading
1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Christine Prat

    September 6, 2016 at 1:18 PM

Add your comments (racist, sexist, & trans/homophobic comments will not be published)


Ox Sam Camp Update: Land Defenders Arrested, Camp Raided After Blocking Excavator




From (follow for more updates).

Read the new press release from 6/8/23 here:

First arrests are underway and camp is being raided after land defenders halted an excavator this morning at Thacker Pass.

OROVADA, NV — This morning, a group of Native American water protectors and allies used their bodies to non-violently block construction of the controversial Thacker Pass lithium mine in Nevada, turning back bulldozers and heavy equipment.

The dramatic scene unfolded this morning as workers attempting to dig trenches near Sentinel Rock were turned back by land defenders who ran and put their bodies between heavy equipment and the land.

Now they are being arrested and camp is being raided.

Northern Paiute and Western Shoshone people consider Thacker Pass to be sacred. So when they learned that the area was slated to become the biggest open-pit lithium mine in North America, they filed lawsuits, organized rallies, spoke at regulatory hearings, and organized in the community. But despite all efforts over the last three years, construction of the mine began in March.

That’s what led Native American elders, friends and family, water protectors, and their allies to establish what they call a “prayer camp and ceremonial fire” at Thacker Pass on May 11th, when they setup a tipi at dawn blocking construction of a water pipeline for the mine. A second tipi was erected several days later two miles east, where Lithium Nevada’s construction is defacing Sentinel Rock, one of their most important sacred sites.

Sentinel Rock is integral to many Nevada Tribes’ worldview and ceremony. The area was the site of two massacres of Paiute and Shoshone people. The first was an inter-tribal conflict that gave the area it’s Paiute name: Peehee Mu’huh, or rotten moon. The second was a surprise attack by the US Cavalry on September 12th, 1865, during which the US Army slaughtered dozens. One of the only survivors of the attack was a man named Ox Sam. It is some of Ox Sam’s descendants, the Grandmas, that formed Ox Sam Newe Momokonee Nokotun (Indigenous Women’s Camp) to protect this sacred land for the unborn, to honor and protect the remains of their ancestors, and to conduct ceremonies. Water protectors have been on-site in prayer for nearly a month.

On Monday, Lithium Nevada Corporation also attempted to breach the space occupied by the water protectors. As workers maneuvered trenching equipment into a valley between the two tipis, water protectors approached the attempted work site and peacefully forced workers and their excavator to back up and leave the area. According to one anonymous land defender, Lithium Nevada’s action was “an attempted show of force to fully do away with our tipi and prayer camp around Sentinel Rock.”

Ranchers, recreationists, and members of the public have been allowed to pass without incident and water protectors maintain friendly relationships with locals. Opposition to the mine is widespread in the area, and despite repeated warnings from the local Sheriff, there have been no arrests. Four people, including Dorece Sam Antonio of the Fort McDermitt Paiute-Shoshone Tribe (an Ox sam descendant) and Max Wilbert of Protect Thacker Pass, have been targeted by court orders barring them from the area. They await a court hearing in Humboldt County Justice Court.

“Lithium Nevada is fencing around the sacred site Sentinel Rock to disrupt our access and yesterday was an escalation to justify removal of our peaceful prayer camps,” said one anonymous water protector at Ox Sam Camp. “Lithium Nevada intends to desecrate and bulldoze the remains of the ancestors here. We are calling out to all water protectors, land defenders, attorneys, human rights experts, and representatives of Tribal Nations to come and stand with us.”

“I’m being threatened with arrest for protecting the graves of my ancestors,” says Dorece Sam Antonio. “My great-great Grandfather Ox Sam was one of the survivors of the 1865 Thacker Pass massacre that took place here. His family was killed right here as they ran away from the U.S. Army. They were never buried. They’re still here. And now these bulldozers are tearing up this place.”

Another spiritual leader on the front lines has been Dean Barlese, a spiritual leader from the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe. Despite being confined to a wheelchair, Barlese led prayers at the site on April 25th (shutting down construction for a day) and returned on May 11th.

“I’m asking people to come to Peehee Mu’huh,” Barlese said. “We need more prayerful people. I’m here because I have connections to these places. My great-great-great grandfathers fought and shed blood in these lands. We’re defending the sacred. Water is sacred. Without water, there is no life. And one day, you’ll find out you can’t eat money.”

The 1865 Thacker Pass massacre is well documented in historical sources, books, newspapers, and oral histories. Despite the evidence but unsurprisingly, the Federal Government has not protected Thacker Pass or even slowed construction of the mine to allow for consultation to take place with Tribes. In late February, the Federal Government recognized tribal arguments that Thacker Pass is a “Traditional Cultural District” eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. But that didn’t stop construction from commencing.

“This is not a protest, it’s a prayer,” said Barlese. “But they’re still scared of me. They’re scared of all of us elders, because they know we’re right and they’re wrong.”

Continue Reading


O’odham Executed by Border Patrol: Statement by Raymond Mattia Family




Raymond Mattia of the Tohono O’odham Nation was executed by US border patrol agents on May 18th at his home. He was reportedly shot 38 times.

A peaceful gathering to support all victims of the
unmonitored violent actions of the Border Patrol and other agencies will be held at The Border
Patrol Station in Why, Az, and Tucson on Golf Links Road this Saturday, May 27th, from

For more information please visit:

Statement by Mattia Raymond’s family:

We have been trying to find the strength to write this statement. This tragedy is so
grievous because it is apparent what had happened. Raymond called for help and, in turn, was
shot down at his doorstep. Raymond’s rights were violated by the authorities whom we trust to
protect our Nation. Improper and unprofessional actions of the agencies involved were witnessed
by family members present near the crime scene. Loved ones sat in agony, not knowing of
Raymond’s condition until they were told that he had passed hours later. Raymond lay in front of
his home for seven hours before a coroner from Tucson arrived.
In our eyes and hearts, we believe that Raymond was approached with excessive and
deadly force that took his life. He was a father, brother, uncle, friend, and an involved
community member. Raymond always fought for what was right, and he will continue to fight
even after his death. This is not an isolated incident, but it should bring awareness of the
oppression our people live through.
We want to thank so many of you for your condolences and support. A GoFundMe for
defense funds will be available soon. A peaceful gathering to support all victims of the
unmonitored violent actions of the Border Patrol and other agencies will be held at The Border Patrol Station in Why, Az, and Tucson on Golf Links Road this Saturday, May 27th, from 10:00am-Noon.

Contact for support:

Continue Reading


People Take the Streets in Occupied Flagstaff to “Honor & Avenge” #MMIWG2ST




Brief report back filed by anonymous.

Occupied Kinłani, May 5, 2023 — Tonight a fierce crew held a vigil and rally then took to the streets of occupied Flagstaff on the national day of awareness for missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, two-spirit, and trans relatives. Family members and friends of Arielisa Bryant & Nicole Joe spoke about the injustices they had faced at the hands of law enforcement. Others shared their stories with five families speaking out about their missing or murdered relatives. Speakers connected the desecration of sacred sites as violence against the land being violence against our bodies. After a moment of silence (which was turned into a moment of rage), the group headed through the crowded streets. Intersections were held. A round dance was done. Chants echoed, “No More Stolen Sisters!” “No Justice No Peace, Fuck the Police!” and “Who keeps us safe? We keep us safe!” while relatives of MMIWG2ST spoke. At one point the group stopped near where Vanessa Lee was found (2018) and created a memorial. After the action, the massive red dress banner that was carried through the streets was dropped.

This action came as U.S. Secretary of the Interior Secretary Deb Haaland prepares to hold a “Not Invisible Act Commission” hearing in Flagstaff on May 9th at a so far unannounced location with little community outreach. The commission is filled with cops, judges, and politicians who seek to further colonial policing and laws over Indigenous lands. Haaland is also complicit in allowing the Willow Project to proceed which furthers resource colonial violence that is directly linked to #MMIWG2ST.

A 2017 study from the Urban Indian Health Institute found that so-called Arizona has the third-highest number of #MMIWG2ST in the country.

That study reported a total of 506 known cases in 71 urban cities across the country and 54 cases were identified in Arizona.

In memory:

Ariel Bryant, found deceased 2019 outside of Kinłani.

Vanessa Lee, found deceased 2018 in the Rio De Flag downtown Kinłani.

Nicole Joe, deceased on christmas day 2017, her ex was ultimately found guilty of second degree murder.

Loreal Tsingine, shot in 2016 five times by Winslow police officer Austin Shipley.

And all those missing and murdered relatives!

As you rest in power, we will rage!

#mmiw#mmiwg2st #mmir #mmip

Continue Reading

Popular Posts