Glendale Mayor Pledged to Work With Tohono O'odham if Feds Gave Nod to West Valley Reservation; City Instead Plans Legal Challenge

Categories: Westside
Thumbnail image for ElaineScruggs.jpg
Elaine Scruggs making her pledge during April 2009 City Council meeting
Glendale Mayor Elaine Scruggs once pledged to work with the Tohono O'odham Nation if the federal government approved the tribe's application to create a West Valley reservation.

But nearly two months after the feds approved that application, instead of a show of support, the city is preparing to file a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Interior to challenge its decision to allow 54 acres of the Tohono O'odham-owned land to become part of the nation's reservation.

Scruggs has ignored repeated attempts by Tohono O'odham Chairman Ned Norris to meet with her and other city officials.

Did she forget about a pledge she made during an April 7, 2009 City Council meeting?

During that meeting, convened so the City Council could formally declare its opposition to the proposed Indian reservation, Scruggs expressed concern about having a reservation within the city's planning area and then said:

"I respect the right of the Tohono O'odham Nation to make this application, and if their application's approved, I do pledge my support to work with [Norris] and all the members of the Nation's community in a true partnership to achieve the best for everyone."

New Times left a message for Scruggs.

City Attorney Craig Tindall said there are still "legitimate issues that need to be raised with the federal court."

He said the application filed in January was significantly different from the one that the feds just approved.

Tindall noted that the Tribe modified its original application and removed the request for federal approval of gaming on the land. He said it was a "very important modification because they continue to insist that they will game and continue to seek support for their project based on the land being used for a gaming facility." 

And, Tindall says, that since the Tohono O'odham Nation is far from completing the process necessary for gaming to legitimately occur on this land under federal law and, they are also far from completing the application to which Scruggs was referring.

Glendale has been opposed to the Tohono O'odham's proposal to establish an Indian reservation next to Westgate City Center, the city's prized sports-and-entertainment district.

Scruggs and city officials collectively have decided to take whatever legal action necessary to block the tribe's plans to first establish a reservation and then build on it the state's largest resort-style casino.

Glendale's lawsuit probably will be filed before month's end.

The feds accepted the tribe's application on July 23. A notice of the decision was posted in the Federal Register on August 26. There is a 30-day window after the decision is posted for opponents to file challenges.

While Glendale has been a staunch opponent, surrounding cities and area residents have been more accepting of the nation's casino plans.

The mayors of Peoria and Tolleson have said the resort-style casino will be an economic boon as it creates about 9,000 jobs and stimulates the region's economy.

Read "Wanna Bet?" a New Times feature on why the Tohono O'odham ended up in the West Valley and the reasons behind Glendale's opposition.

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Custer Killer 2010
Custer Killer 2010

What "action" you asked? How about your talking head of a mayor takes NO ACTION. Instead, stay out of the Native's way of trying to revive it's own economic engine. And honor the U.S. government's application approval. After all, they are the only entity overseeing all of Indian policies and issues relevant to them.

"whorehouse" and "porn shops"???

First, lay off the meth-pipe son. They have no known history of opening up such businesses you asininely mentioned, other than the White man. And no intentions of doing so. They are better than that. And for whatever economic purposes they see fit. Walmart or casino, its done in the name of business as usual. This is all strictly business for them. Unless, your lying spokeholes at your "respective mucipalities" have no expertise in dealing with business folks.

And btw, your "respective muncipalities" were never given the supreme authority to "decide" what's best for Indian Country to begin with. Everthing is done, through the U.S. Dept. of ther Interior. Not your local mayors.

And your "LORD" knows you really don't know how many tribal members live on the reservation or offf. That only really makes no difference in how First Nations are acquiring back lands for economic packages. And if you have a problem with Native owned and operated businesses, then don't go.

Isn't Freedom great?


No members of the tribe will live on this "reservation". It will exist only to allow them to siphon money out of vulnerable people's wallets and take it back to wherever they happen to live (which is anyone's guess, being that most don't even live on reservation land anymore).

Would you be as supportive if the Indian business model of today were whorehouses instead? How about porn shops? Marijuana dispensaries?

If the tribe wanted to use this land to open the biggest WalMart known to man, I'd have no problem with it other than how they went about getting it designated as Tribal land.. But once this precedent is set, our respective municipalities will have no ability to decide their future destinies as communities. Civil planning will be totally jeopardized. You'll see other tribes doing what the Tohono O'odham did here, and use deception and shell corporations to buy land in most any heavily populated area they wish and erect casinos that probably go against what the local residents want.

I know that plenty of you want THIS casino (Lord knows its so hard to drive to the L101 in Scottsdale to gamble), but if it is allowed to happen, there is virtually no restriction as to how the tribes' vision of progress synchs with your own.

With the tribal members living mostly off-reservation anyway, we're not talking about poor people living in hogans here.

Johnny White-man
Johnny White-man

I guess this is exactly why the Natives don't trust the White politiKKKo. They are all talk but no action.

Well, I can't blame the Natives. Hope they win this one in court.

Their new motto should be:



What "action" will ever make you happy?

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