Protected human remains reportedly disrupted at South Mountain freeway construction site

Posted at 12:00 PM, Dec 13, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-13 16:22:23-05

The Gila River Indian Community has filed a court motion seeking an injunction to stop South Mountain Freeway construction.

The motion, filed on Friday, indicates there will be permanent harm to the Community if the freeway is built.

"The Community very much hopes that this construction is halted immediately, before permanent harm comes to South Mountain, or Muhadagi Doag in our culture," said Gila River Indian Community Gov. Stephen R. Lewis.

The motion states construction crews have reportedly discovered and disrupted more than 20 sites containing protected human remains.

Those in the community view the disturbance of moving ancestral graves as destruction of sacred heritage sites.

RELATED: Crews digging for artifacts near future South Mountain Freeway

ADOT released the following statement to ABC15: "The data recovery process has identified cultural resources at these sites, which are all north of the Gila River Indian Community in the City of Phoenix.  ADOT and FHWA have engaged in extensive consultation with the tribal historic preservation officer to ensure that all archaeological and cultural resources are afforded appropriate care."