Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

February 17, 2022

O'odham Stronghold: Prayer Run Phoenix to Oak Flat

O'odham Stronghold  Runners in Phoenix today, Thursday, Feb. 17, 9 am, at Van Buren and 48th St. The first rest stop is Papago Park. Photo by Ofelia Rivas, Tohono O'odham. 

Running for the Ancestors, Running for the Apache Stronghold. In Phoenix, runners are demanding a halt to the excavation of hundreds of Hohokam graves that are being carelessly and recklessly excavated for a housing project. The Phoenix New Times reports there are 1,000 structures and about 700 graves of O'odham ancestors at the site in central Phoenix.

Update: O'odham Way of Life does not include digging up human remains, by Ofelia Rivas, Tohono O'odham elder

Run for the Ancestors. Run for the Stronghold.

Prayer Run to Oak Flat

By Marina Thomas - Running Deer

Akimel O’odham

Last year for Apache Stronghold’s 7th Annual March to Oak Flat, as a result of the increase in tribal support across Arizona, it came to Vanessa Nosie that the prayer to Oak Flat should come in from all four directions.

We ran in from the West, nearly 90 miles from the Salt and Gila River confluence -- a colorful group of both indigenous and non-indigenous peoples, coming together to pray for the protection of the land and water.

On March 1, 2021, the day after the closing ceremony, the Biden Administration had rescinded the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS), blocking a land transfer from the US Forest Service to Resolution Copper, temporarily halting the mining project.

Just days after the relieving news, one of the runners, whom I’d never met prior, reached out to notify me of the discovery of human remains that were being excavated in a current construction zone in her neighborhood.

I’d go on to research about the excavation, learning that the City of Phoenix began excavating an ancient city that archeologists refer to as LA CIUDAD, clearing ground for a new “holistic” living community.

In the process of this excavation, hundreds of Hohokam remains were being unearthed along with the homes, tools, and other remnants of what true holistic living looked like in the Sonoran Desert.

While we, the descendants of these ancestors, learned of the excavation and reached out to the city to halt the project, we were ignored and the project moved forward.

As of today, over one thousand remains have been removed and more excavation is required for the continued development for the upcoming Edison Eastlake Community.

This year, the run to Oak Flat from the West will start at the desecration site of our ancestors in Phoenix.

As part of Resolution Copper’s mining project, it is planned that the waste tailing site to hold over 1.3 billion tons of toxic waste will be contained within the mountain's tributaries -- where our ancestors also rest. It is our responsibility, as descendants of these incredible human beings who lived and worked harmoniously with the Earth, to do everything in our power to protect who we are and where we come from.

This year, we will run to Oak Flat from start to finish with the ancestors in our prayer.

The run begins at 401 N. 20th Street, Phoenix, Arizona 85006 on Feb. 17, 2022.
Share the love, please help organizers provide water and nutritious snacks.
Hundreds of Hohokam graves are now being recklessly excavated

In the news: Phoenix New Times reports that there are about 1,000 structures and about 700 graves here in this Hohokam village. 


By Marina Thomas - Running Deer

Akimel O’odham

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