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Updated Mar 27, 2013 - 7:14 am

Native American group protests Arizona casinos, freeway

Native Americans protest the negative impact of casinos on their communities. (KTAR Photo/Bob McClay)

PHOENIX -- The 2013 Indian Gaming Conference brought dozens of protesters to the Phoenix Convention Center on Tuesday.

The protesters said casinos cause Indian communities to compete with each other, thereby dividing Native Americans.

"These casinos are doing nothing but dividing and conquering us," said Paloma Allen, who is a member of both the Tohono O'odham and Gila River communities. "It's Western values being put on an indigenous society.

"The Tohono O'ohdam Community wants to have a casino in Glendale, so they are at odds with the Gila River Community," Allen said.

She said that the casinos do not make the contributions to Native Americans that they claim, and that Native American values should be taken into consideration when planning development in their communities.

Allen also joined others who were there to voice their opposition to the building of the Loop 202 freeway South Mountain alignment. They said the freeway would be built on what they consider to be sacred land. Allen said Native Americans are trying to preserve the land for the future.

"We're doing it for our descendants," Allen said. "I am a mother. It's for my baby's baby's babies. We cannot let that freeway go through the Creator's home."

A spokesman for the Indian Gaming Industry refused to comment.

About the Author

Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I live in north Phoenix with my wife Rene' and my son Devin.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: My Dad took me to see Jimmy Dean at the Arizona State Fairgrounds in the 1960's. It was before the Coliseum was built. The only thing I remember is Jimmy Dean singing his big hit "Big Bad John."

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Shiloh Community Church in Phoenix. Devin is a high school student at Scottsdale Christian Academy. He plays on the baseball, football, and basketball teams and sings in the choir. Obviously, we keep busy trying to go to all his events! We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and long road trips. We like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.


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