Jiivik Siiki, who has a master's degree in American Indian Studies, explains that before the Spanish, before the Mexicans, before the Americans arrived on the scene, the Gila River, Salt River Pima-Maricopa, and Tohono O'odham were one people.

"We're all related. We speak the same language," he says. "We pray together, we mourn together, we harvested fields together."

Pablo Iglesias
An artist's rendering of the Tohono O'odham Nation's West Valley Resort.
An artist's rendering of the Tohono O'odham Nation's West Valley Resort.

It puzzles him and others that officials of his tribe claim the Tohono O'odham are trampling on Gila River's aboriginal lands.

But the underlying fight is not about ancestral lands — it's about money.

Overall, gaming is a financial boon for Arizona: Tribes have contributed more than $721 million to support education, emergency and trauma care, the tourism industry, wildlife and conservation, local governments and charities, and nonprofit organizations.

A Gila River attorney commented during a community meeting in January that if the Nation opens its West Valley casino, the Gila River people will lose about 30 percent of their current annual gaming revenue in the first year and possibly more in years after, according to the tribal newsletter.

"These losses would result in the reduction of jobs and services, such as transportation and housing. Per capita payments [funds the tribal government shares with community members] would also likely be reduced," the article continued.

Gila River operates two casinos just outside Chandler — Wild Horse Pass and Lone Butte — and a third, Vee Quiva, in the West Valley. Salt River Pima-Maricopa's casinos are near Scottsdale.

Vee Quiva is the only gaming destination in the West Valley and will remain so if the Gila River Community can continue to stall the Nation's plan.

The Nation is certain that it cannot convince its competing relatives that its West Valley casino should be built. Instead, it will continue trying to make inroads with Glendale — the West Valley's only city opposed to the plan. Individual politicians across the Valley have expressed support or opposition, but Glendale is the only municipality to formally adopt an opposing position.

Surprise, Tolleson, and Peoria have made public — and official — their support of the Tohono O'odham's West Valley casino.

"Opposing tribes engaged East Valley mayors to try to thwart positive development in the West Valley," says a letter last September from these west-side cities. "[East Valley] mayors certainly understand the overwhelmingly positive impacts casino resorts have brought to their communities."

When the Nation first revealed its West Valley Resort proposal, it touted that construction of the resort would have a more than $300 million economic impact on the area, including generating 3,000 jobs. While opponents accused the Nation of inflating the figures, Peoria and Tolleson quickly rallied in support of the project.

The West Valley cities criticized the East Valley municipalities for "supporting desperate and dangerous attempts to deprive our residents of the same benefits they currently enjoy."

While the Nation relishes any endorsement, Glendale's is most important.

"If we can demonstrate to the Department of Interior that Glendale is welcoming . . . that's going to be helpful," Tohono O'odham Chairman Norris says. "We've always been knocking on [Glendale's] door."

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20 comments
jeanjb
jeanjb

i miss gov mary thomas

kevinklein801
kevinklein801

Isn't it ironic that as the government entities arguments against this project get struck down time after time in court; that they are now falling back on a argument that basically says, "the tribe is breaking its promise"?  Seems broken promises sting both ways.

ExpertShot
ExpertShot topcommenter

The Gila River Indian Community is contractually required to indemnify their Casino Management Company and defend it's profit guarantee they granted it in their contracts.  They HAVE to pursue the Tohono O'odohm to not open that casino in Glendale.  If they didn't they'd have to pay all sorts of premiums to whatever slimeball casino management company they have out in Gila River.


devilsbeatwildcats
devilsbeatwildcats

This is just a delay tactic by the COG, Gila Monsters & Salty's for the Super Bowl revenue. All three tribes are decent descendants of the Hohokam's who were the original settlers in south central Arizona. Both tribes do not need casino revenue to spoil there people with free utilities, housing, etc... They can cash it in by leasing their land for development to European Americans.

FRONTERA
FRONTERA

    Shout out to Santa R0sa >>> "bouncin' on twenty fo's" ....."sippin' on coke and rum , i'm like so what I'm drunk" - R KELLY IGNITION...

FRONTERA
FRONTERA

If I were GILA RIVER , I would try to work out some sort of  deal with TO NATION ...TO has the law ,the money .the lawyers and patience to win...

mrwally373
mrwally373

I think the real reason the casino has not at this point been approved,...is the Gila People who operate in the west valley, they don't want the competition...they opened another hotel on their properties, and with a casino opening in Glendale would take ALOT of the casino customers away.

TaxpayingVoter
TaxpayingVoter

The people who spend REAL money consistently in casinos tend to change it up and move from one to another in a single night.


There is room for another casino up there and the community would benefit.


This whole situation really makes the Gila River community look bad and it saddens me.

serpico1000
serpico1000

Is this another card playing deal from the major government players? for the entire picture here is that since the local governments can not fight then turn the table on these tribal players?? 

Laura Antonuccio
Laura Antonuccio

Are you kidding me with this photo? A red faced slot machine wearing a headdress, covered in arrows, tomahawks and a teepee? No one should have to tell you how offensive this is.

davewk2002
davewk2002

I have worked on  the reservations involved  and have worked at an elementary school near the stadium in Glendale.  This dispute is about greed.  I believe that the casino would be a positive source of jobs for the west valley and would benefit the Tohono O'odham. I had the privilege to attend a Thanksgiving lunch at a school on the Salt River Reservation a few years ago when a tribal leader offered a prayer before the meal.  I was humbled by the words he spoke and it was clear that he held deeper respect for this land and for Arizona than the rest of us whose families might have been here only 100 years.  


To the tribe:  Look to your traditions to settle your dispute. Learn to share; you will all benefit.  There is plenty.  Do not be too quick to adopt attorneys to settle disputes among yourselves.  Use attorneys for disputes with others.  Be very careful of the White men that you are dealing with here.  They have their own interests at heart.


To those in Glendale who are offended by the casino:  Get over it!  These people are more honest in their dealings with others than you are.  Until your families have lived in this valley for 500 or more years you should be considered their guests.  These people were here before the Spanish and lived here long before this was part of Mexico or the United States.  Stop this nonsense; you should be ashamed of your actions.  There is much you could learn from the Tohono O'odham that would enrich your lives if you spend time with these people. 

Pakrat4ever
Pakrat4ever

What the other tribes are saying is the same things the Republicans are saying: We got ours screw the rest of your indians friends.  Once opposing tribes start pumping money into the politicians campaigns and the cities coffers that are opposed to letting the Tohono O'odham open their casino, it's pretty plain, the other tribes don't want their Brothers to reap the rewards of having a casino of their own.  It basically called Greed.  Yes, the O'odham casino will take a bite out of the other casino's profits. I see buses loading up in Sun City heading for the long trip to the other casino's.  But I feel the Tohono O'odham tribes should still have the right that the other tribes have to make a profit and help their people.  What's fair to one tribe, should be fair for all.  Yes, the Indians are still at war with their Brothers and now it's all about the Almighty Dollar, and Yes, they've dropped their bows, arrows and lances; and now the lawyers and politicians are reaping their rewards by fighting for the money; I'll bet they hope the situation goes on forever. I support the Tohono O'odham tribe in their quest for equal Casino representation.

pat029
pat029

This is just a issue that should be done by the indians and not by this rag this a newspaper thats just  yellow news paper every thing the sheriff  found was all correct . and just because you fond a cropt judge and had the board of supervisor that you paid off  you got off but leave the Indians alone and Frank Trent is as bad as flake and just as money hungry  just leave them alone.

jpnightrain
jpnightrain

What?!? The TOs broke their promise to the white eye to not build a casino in the Phoenix area?  I'm shocked, shocked, I say, since the WEs would never break a promise to them. LOL

eric.nelson745
eric.nelson745 topcommenter

It would be interesting to know just what is Trent Franks' angle in the ongoing controversy about a new casino in Glendale. It is very hard to imagine that he is concerned with the well-being of area residents, much less the plight of the T.O. Nation. Is his involvement all about paybacks from the Gila River Indian Community? That wouldn't surprise me at all.

donnied1
donnied1

Get off the booze and drugs, and try hard to focus! Orherwise, shut the fuck up. You embarrass yourself...

marcy
marcy

@eric.nelson745  

Trent's angle is $$$$ as in the thousands of dollars poured into his campaign coffers by the Gila River community.


Trent likes to talk about free enterprise but when push comes to shove, he'll go with the money every time.

logicman
logicman

@eric.nelson745  a congressman worried about the well-being of area residents?!?!?  HAHAHAHHAHHHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!!

 
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