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New Novel Explores Tucson Pascua-Yaqui History

Saturday, December 13, 2014

"The Faithful" covers two epic, overlapping stories of two men who made Tucson what it is today.

Before his assassination, President Abraham Lincoln had plans to stop U.S. borders at the edge of the Plains where Native Americans had lived since crossing the continent centuries before.

Those plans were abandoned until 1983.

The same year Lute Olson was hired to rebuild the basketball program at the University of Arizona, Tucson police officer Joe Parella was asked to go into Tucson's Old Pascua Village, and do the same thing Wyatt Earp did in Tombstone.

Both men's efforts were considered miraculous, Olson transforming Arizona into a global powerhouse, and Parella as effective as the fictional 'Dances With Wolves'. He influenced Indian Affairs to grant the Pascua-Yaquis their first license to operate casinos. The result was Casino Del Sol.

"The Faithful" is now the basis of a mini series being developed by Miracle Pictures Studios Denver. It covers two epic, overlapping stories of the two men, whose service to the city of Tucson helped transform a place long-divided by racism and host to human and drug trafficking, into an oasis of tourism.

Parella, who was half-Choctaw, spent 4 years as a narcotics cop before being assigned to lead a task force often compared to the fabled "Untouchables," in 1985. He fleetingly crossed paths with hall of fame basketball coach Lute Olson, by using the UA sports program trading cards published by the university as outreach tools, winning back the trust of tribal families.

Their collective efforts were successful in ridding the community of drugs, and raising the expectations of its citizens through the game of basketball. Even more fascinating, this story is told from the perspective of the throne of Jesus Christ, opening with the death of Parella, who fell to cancer in 1991.

A Tucson street was named after Parella in 1998. Lute and Bobbi Olson Court was dedicated at McKale Center in 2002. The novel was nominated for a 2014 Pulitzer Prize for historical fiction.

Producer-actor Kevin Sorbo has committed to playing Lute Olson on the big screen.

It is available exclusively in digital form on Amazon Kindle and in paperback on and

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