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Tohono O'odham Nation To Break Ground On West Valley Casino

The Tohono O’odham Nation plans to break ground on its West Valley casino Thursday morning, but some say the move has its risks.

The tribe has been opposed on multiple fronts since the casino project was proposed five years ago, from lawsuits to legislative action.

Diane Enos is the president of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, one of the groups against the project. She said the Tohono O’odham Nation is taking a big risk by initiating construction as the legal and congressional battles the nation is facing are far from over.  

"We feel pretty good about our opposition efforts and the validity of them and the strength of them," said Enos. "Because the senators of Arizona represent all of Arizona and their promotion of a solution is very very strong."

But some have their doubts about the success of the opposition. Glendale City Council member Gary Sherwood said the tribe has won most of its legal battles, adding that, in his opinion, the casino could be a good thing for the community.

"This is going to be a neat project, and it’s also going to be something that we can hold people when we have these large events like the Super Bowl," he said. "We don’t have much out there right yet. So having this facility out there will hold people to the west gate sports and entertainment area." 

Officials with the tribe and the city of Glendale are expected to attend the ceremony.


Carrie Jung Senior Field Correspondent, Education Desk Carrie Jung began her public radio career in Albuquerque, N.M., where she fell in love with the diverse cultural scene and unique political environment of the Southwest. Jung has been heard on KJZZ since 2013 when she served as a regular contributor to the Fronteras Desk from KUNM Albuquerque. She covered several major stories there including New Mexico's Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage and Albuquerque's failed voter initiative to ban late-term abortions. Jung has also contributed stories about environmental and Native American issues to NPR's Morning Edition, PRI's The World, Al Jazeera America, WNYC's The Takeaway, and National Native News. She earned a bachelor's degree in psychology and a master's in marketing, both from Clemson University. When Jung isn't producing content for KJZZ she can usually be found buried beneath mounds of fabric and quilting supplies. She recently co-authored a book, "Sweet And Simple Sewing," with her mother and sister, who are fabric designers.