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Damning the Gila River

Dried up Gila River bed on the reservation Photo credit: Adrian Munguia

Photo by Adrian Munguia’20 | Dried up Gila River bed on the reservation


By Adrian Munguia’20

“Actions have consequences.” This is a phrase we hear often, those consequences can affect not only us but others as well. Damming the Gila River is a great example of actions affecting others, even an entire people.

In the 1870s the Gila River was dammed. The dam caused the water flow to be cut off and made what was once a river nothing but a dried up bed.

Carol Brown, the mother of Matthew Brown ’03 and Christopher Brown ’97, is a teacher at Saint Peter Indian Mission Catholic School on the Gila River reservation.

Brown said that after the river was cut off, her grandfather had to cut and sell wood from the trees on the reservation to provide for his family.

Selling wood from the trees was done by many families on the reservation and led to the environment in the reservation going from green and lush to dry and arid due to the amount of trees being cut down.

Brown said her mother moved off the reservation in order to avoid the same fate of no occupation and spent the rest of her childhood in Phoenix.

Brown’s mother went to Phoenix Indian School on Central Avenue and Indian School Road; being so close, she saw Brophy students while she was growing up.

Brown said that her mother always wanted to know someone who went to “the school across the street” and this desire led to Brown sending her own sons to Brophy.

Both of her sons graduated from Brophy and led lives to prosperous careers. Brophy allowed them to escape the common fate of poverty on the reservation.

Jonathan Londono, moderator of Brophy’s Native Club, claimed in an email that Mr. Ward is trying to get a connection with Saint Peter Indian Mission Catholic School, the same school Brown teaches at.

The flow of students from this school will help give more members from the reservation the opportunity to prosper like the Brown brothers.

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