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Gila River Indian Community Will Appeal Freeway Decision

Gila River Indian Community

The governing body of the Gila River Indian Community has voted unanimously to appeal a recent court decision allowing construction of a freeway that would run through land the tribe holds sacred. The tribe has been fighting the South Mountain Freeway for years.

Most recently, the Gila Indian River Community, or GRIC, filed lawsuits along with a coalition of environmental and community groups, trying to block the freeway. Those suits were struck down Aug. 19 by a judge on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Now, the GRIC legal team will seek an injunction to stop construction while the appeal is pending.

The South Mountain Freeway would be the final piece to complete the Loop 202 and Loop 101 freeway system  and would connect Chandler to Interstate 10 in west Phoenix.

Voters approved funding for the project more than 30 years ago, but the proposed freeway has been controversial ever since.

When senior field correspondent Stina Sieg was 22, she moved to the desert. She hasn’t been the same since. At the time, the Northern California native had just graduated from college and was hankering for wide-open spaces. So she took a leap and wrote to nearly every newspaper in New Mexico until one offered her a job. That’s how she became the photographer for a daily paper in the small town of Silver City. And that’s when she realized how much she loved storytelling. In the years since, the beauty of having people open up and share their stories — and trust her to tell them — has never gotten old to Sieg. Before coming to KJZZ, Sieg was also a writer and photographer at newspapers in Glenwood Springs, Colorado; Moab, Utah; and the Smoky Mountains town of Waynesville, North Carolina. She always had her hand in public radio, too, including hosting Morning Edition on a fill-in basis at WNCW in North Carolina. It’s still the best music station she’s found. When she’s not reporting, chances are Sieg is running, baking, knitting or driving to some far-flung town deep in the desert — just to see what it looks like.