Gila River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, Arizona


The community broke ground April 28 for a new $2 million diabetes education and resource center. The incidence of Type II diabetes is three times the national average in the community just south of Phoenix. Despite significant research for three decades, there has been little improvement. At one time, more than one-third of adults over age 35 had diabetes, what they call the "Pima Plague.'' Today, about half the 13,000 Pimas are stricken. The Gila River Diabetes Education and Resource Center marks the beginning of a different approach toward lowering the rate of diabetes. It will help because it will educate people on how to change their lifestyles to avoid the disease, said Dr. Khalid Hasan, a Phoenix pediatric endocrinologist who specializes in treating diabetics. The center will develop community- and cultural-based programs and methods to fight the disease. The money to build the center was part of a $460 million federal package to fund diabetes issues nationally, $70 million of which went to Native American programs, said Gary Bohnee, public relations director for the community.

The Immigration and Naturalization Service denied Rafael Pacheco, a legal resident, citizenship on grounds of adultery - that of his former wife. "It was her adultery," the landscaper said April 26 after an INS hearing to contest the denial. Pacheco applied for citizenship in 1996, submitting all the necessary fingerprints and paperwork and passing his history, Constitution and English tests. INS declared in August, he was unfit because he lacked "good moral character." The 1993 divorce decree, submitted as part of his application, listed adultery as the cause of the breakup. The complaint filed by his former wife in the community court alleges "excesses, cruel treatment or outrages," during their 10-year marriage. Court records show she did not appear for the proceedings in which Pacheco accused her of adultery. He submitted a sworn statement from her adult son saying she had taken up with an old boyfriend. If Pacheco, who immigrated from Mexico at 15, cannot produce court verification of his account within 30 days, he will have to start all over with his citizenship application. He said he already invested five years in the process and paid nearly $1,000 in attorney and filing fees.