Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Gila River Reservation

Wild Horse Pass Hotel and Casino on the Gila River Reservation, 2010 (Photo By: Trainor Glass Company) 
Wild Horse Pass Hotel and Casino on the Gila River Reservation, November 2011 (Photo By: Hannah Al-Ghareeb)
The Gila River Reservation is an American Indian Reservation, south of phoenix, located by the Gila River. The population consists of the Akimel O’odham(Pima) and the Pee Posh (Maricopa) tribes. The Maricopa and Pima originally joined together and became allies with the common goal to obtain freedom. Both cultures had their own ethnic identity but agreed to have one single council that would work for them, which led to today’s reservation made up of Maricopa and Pima living together. Natives have endured trials and tribulations throughout history, especially after World War II that changed American Society and affected the lives of Native Americans.

In 1952 the government created the Indian Relocation Program, designed to encourage the Indians to leave the reservation, divide them and have control over their land. Over 750,000 natives were separated throughout the cities of Chicago, Denver, St. Louis, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Cincinnati, Cleveland and Dallas. They were promised with special incentives, such as temporary housing, guidance and counseling to finding new jobs but those promises were not kept. Jobs were paying extremely low, for example an average family was making 80 dollars a month, Many of them were away from their families, which resorted some to drink alcohol and getting in trouble with the law. They were manipulated by the government just for the purpose of controlling more land. Similar to the Japanese Internment Camps, when more than 13,000 Japanese were forced to leave their home after the attack on Pearl Harbor and sent to Gila River and lived in small camps with horrible living conditions. The government inability to distinguish which Japanese were loyal to Japan and which were possible threats led to this corruption. I feel the Government manipulated both Japanese and Indians for their own personal gain and because they’re not “true Americans" but minorities.

The history of the Community has always been about farming. Going far back as of 300 BC, the ancestors (Hohokam) of the Pima tribe changed a dirty desert environment into fertile land. The Hohokam created a system of Canals that were used to transform the desert into a farmland which provided food for all the people. This knowledge was passed from generation to generation and helped formed the Landscape of Arizona. City of Phoenix became relied on Pima and Maricopa crops, such as wheat, grain and corn that allowed incoming settlers to survive. In the late 1800’s farming was in jeopardy by a system of dams that led the Pima and Maricopa to rely on federal assistance to survive. The federal Assistance helped paved the way to greater economic development within the community, which led to increased agricultural, industrial and recreational activities. The increasing agricultural activity led to more cotton, grains and citrus being distributed. The economic development, led to the evolution of the Gila River gaming enterprises. The gaming enterprises include the Wild Horse Pass Casino and Vee Quiva Casino. These casinos had opened in 2009 and have placed the Gila River Gaming Enterprises at number one in Arizona and continue today. The Casinos include over 1000 slot machines, 75 table games, a big showroom that play host to entertainers and a high energy nightclub. Gila River Gaming Enterprises mission is to generate income for the community, provide employment opportunities for the community and help contribute in the economic growth of the community.

- Hannah Al-Ghareeb and Ben Tsegai


➢ Continuing Maricopa Identities: Gila River Reservation, ArizonaMarsha S. Kelly, Journal of Southwest Vol. 47, No. 1, Oral History Remembered: Native Americans, Doris Duke, and the Young Anthropologists (Spring, 2005), pp. 47-56




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