Some members of the Gila River Indian Community will meet for a relay run and march to show solidarity in opposition against the Loop 202 Freeway this weekend.

The event will begin at sunrise Saturday, Dec. 8 with a relay run of approximately 36 miles from U’us Kehk in Blackwater, Gila River Indian Reservation District 1, to the south end of the Estrella Mountains. From there participants are invited to spend the night and prepare for a sunrise walk from the Estrellas north about 15 miles to Pecos Road and South Mountain at the edge of the proposed freeway alignment.

The relay run and march is a grassroots effort by some tribal members. Any GRIC members who oppose the freeway extension and their supporters are welcome to attend.

Meals will be provided to participants on both days and campsites have been arranged but participants are asked to bring their own camping gear. Organizers are still accepting donations of breakfast items for Saturday and Sunday. Suggested items are bagels, fuit, boiled eggs, coffee, water and juice. Donations of snacks and lunches are also welcome.

“O’odham land and resources have been given to others since settlers came to Arizona,” organizers said in a statement. “The O’odham people, made up of four sister tribes in Arizona and the O’odham in Mexico, are the first inhabitants of south central Arizona, and the mountain is a place that has special significance in the history of our people. We cannot allow the continued desecration of it and we cannot also allow our lands to be handed over to anyone but our children.”

For more information on the run and march contact Jiivik Siiki at (480) 772-2826 or Linda Paloma Allen at (480) 458-8329.

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