Update: Electricity Outage in Hungry Valley

Reno, Nev. (updated 7 a.m.) After least 150 households on the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony’s Hungry Valley land base went without electricity, most likely do to a storm, power was restored to some homes at 1:51 a.m., while others were dark until 7 a.m. on Wednesday.

RSIC staff including the recreation department, emergency responders—fire and police; extended the hours of operation at the Hungry Valley Recreation Center until 11:15 p.m., as about 45 people used the facility as an emergency shelter.

Community members impacted by the power outage were fed at the complex. The shelter operation was terminated at 11:15 p.m.

Below are safety tips for dealing with a power outage:

  • Only use flashlights for emergency lighting, candles can cause fires.
  • Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed. Most food requiring refrigeration can be kept safely in a closed refrigerator for several hours. An unopened refrigerator will keep food cold for about 4 hours.
    A full freezer will keep the temperature for about 48 hours.
  • Take steps to remain cool if it is hot outside. In intense heat when the power may be off for a long time, consider going to a movie theater, shopping mall or “cooling shelter” that may be open in your community.
  • Turn off or disconnect appliances and other equipment in case of a momentary power “surge” that can damage computers and other devices. Consider adding surge protectors.
  • If you are considering purchasing a generator for your home, consult an electrician or engineer before purchasing and installing.
  • Only use generators away from your home and NEVER run a generator inside a home or garage, or connect it to your home’s electrical system.

Annual Senior Fun Day Bonds Elders, Community

In Native American tribal communities, elders are the wisdom-keepers as they know our history, know our culture and educate the next generation.

For the Paiute, Shoshone and Washoe people, elders are held in the highest regard.

Nowhere was that more evident than at the recent Reno-Sparks Indian Colony Senior Fun Day.

Organized and managed by the RSIC Senior Program, the annual event drew over 350 participants from as far away as Bishop, Calif., and Fort McDermitt, which straddles the Oregon-Nevada border.

Teresa Bill, one of the RSIC staff members who helps orchestrate the event, said that the mission for Senior Fun Day is simple.

“We have elders from so many different reservations this gives them an chance to see family and friends and catch up,” Bill said. “When we come together, we learn more and really, it is just to have fun.”

That sentiment was echoed and celebrated from 10 a.m., until the last visitor left the RSIC Gym at 3 p.m.

Plus, it was the principle of Reno-Sparks Indian Colony (RSIC) Chairman Arlan D. Melendez’s welcoming remarks.

“It doesn’t matter where you’re from, we are all Native, and we are all family,” Chairman Melendez said. “Today’s event shows that right here.”

Besides meeting and greeting friends from afar, the participants showed off their personalities by wearing unique hats that culminated with a hat contest via loudest applause.

Many of the elders played chair volleyball. Everyone enjoyed the catered lunch compliments of Bertha Miranda’s Mexican Food Restaurant and Cantina. There also was bingo with prizes as well as many information booths with souvenirs and important materials to take home.

“It overwhelms me and I feel so good in my heart to see so many family and friends,” said Reynelda James, an elder from Pyramid Lake. “We don’t see everyone that often so this is a blessing.”

Furthermore, two elders from faraway Bridgeport, Calif., not only participated in all the Senior Fun Day activities, but 94-year-old Madeline Stevens Lundy and 91-year-old Joyce Glazier took in an art exhibit: The Culture of Weaving: Traditional Baskets in Transition, Paiute, Shoshone & Washoe Baskets which is housed through the end of the month by the RSIC Cultural Resources Program/THPO.

Bill, who often identifies and organizes outings for the RSIC Senior Program, explained that the coming to Reno adds a special dimension to the day.
“Since the RSIC senior center is so centralized, many of the elders take the opportunity to shop and see things in the city,” Bill said. “That helps us get so many people to attend.”

Certainly, Tribes are in the best position to provide services to Native elders, and considering the future growing population of older Americans, that is not an easy job.

According to a November 2015 report by the American Association of Retired Person’s Public Policy Institute, by 2050, the number of American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/ANs) ages 65 and older will more than triple, and the number of those 85 and older will increase sevenfold–from 42,000 in 2012 to 300,000 in 2050.

Today, more than 5.2 million United States citizens identify as American Indian / Alaska Native (AI/ AN), either alone or combined with other races.

Heartbreakingly, almost twice as many older AI/ANs are uninsured than are people in the same-age US population (16 percent versus 8.5 percent). A larger percentage of AI/ANs ages 50-plus receive Medicaid or use Veterans Affairs coverage, and 22 percent receive care provided by the Indian Health Service.

In areas like Reno-Sparks, the number and proportion of AI/ANs (of all ages) who reside in urban areas have increased 34 percent from 2000 to 2010.

Today, 44 percent of AI/ANs ages 50 and over reside on tribal lands. Alaska has the highest proportion of AI/ANs ages 50 and over (14 percent), followed by Oklahoma, New Mexico, South Dakota, and Montana. California has the most AI/ANs ages 50 and over (nearly 172,000), followed by Oklahoma, Texas, Arizona and New Mexico.

Of course, the federal government has a trust responsibility to AI/ANs that includes a legal obligation to protect treaty rights, lands, assets, and resources, plus a duty to carry out the mandates of federal law to AI/ AN people, and our elders are at the core of our communities. However, these same elders comprise the most economically disadvantaged group in the nation and are at increasing risk of financial exploitation and neglect.

To combat this crisis, the National Indian Council on Aging (NICOA) was established in 1976 by Tribal Leaders to advocate for improved comprehensive health, social services and economic wellbeing for our elders.

“In our culture, we hold our elders in the highest regard,” said Brendan Able, the RSIC Senior Center Activities Coordinator. “Typically, our youth have the energy while the elders exercise their wisdom, which guides us all.”

Able said that an elder–man or woman–is not elected or appointed, but always is widely recognized and highly respected for their wisdom and spiritual leadership.

“Our elders often are known for being the kind of people who have paid attention and gaining knowledge and wisdom from life,” Abel said. “Certainly, we feel that on Senior Fun Day.”


Native Culture, Artown Create Closing Night Nationhood

The mission of Artown is to create a climate for the cultural rebirth of our region, the closing night of the month-long celebration was a microcosm of that goal.
To warmup 1,000-plus spectators, attendees were treated to dances and songs which have been handed down from generation-to-generation for thousands of years compliments of Lois Kane and the Eagle Wing Pageant Dancers.

Toddlers, teens, and award winning pow wow dancers dazzled the crowd with colorful regalia and energetic moves all in sync with two astounding drum groups: local talent Young Chiefs and the all-women drum group The Mankillers.

Plus the food options were notable—Indian Tacos or pine nut ice cream with Espresso, plus typical fair treats and several beverages to keep hydrated during the 101 degree heat.

All the while, an abundance of Native fine art, Native crafts, and Native merchandise beckoned visitors to explore the vendor booths which were filled with cultural treasures created with inspiration from the rich, matchless Native American culture that has flourished for millennia.

While the crowd jockeyed for optimal seating for the night’s finale, the next 15 people honored by the Reno People Project were introduced (see page 8 for complete biographies). The ceremony held on the Wingfield park stage, was part of the City of Reno’s year-long celebration of its 150th birthday.

Following the Native way, the free public event paused for Pyramid Lake elder Charlotte Harry to offer a prayer in her Paiute language.  Also, her son, Norman Harry, who is on Artown’s Board of Directors, played his hand drum and sang before introducing the main event, A Tribe Called Red.

For nearly a decade, A Tribe Called Red has been blended Native American pow wow vocals and drums with electronic dance music. Since time immemorial, Indigenous people engaged in self expression through their unique melodic songs with specific scale patterns and rhythm. From Ottawa, Canada, A Tribe Called Red has created tracks that blend traditional Native music sounds with hip hop, reggae, plus techno builds and breaks.

The fresh, electronic sounds are enough to engage the under 30-generations, however, the Native artists of the Nipissing First Nation, the Cayuga First Nation and Six Nations of the Grand River, infuse a political message with their exceedingly danceable sound.

The work of A Tribe Called Red might quite possibly be the purest, most successful blend of American Indian traditional sound with the cutting edge passion of modern day activists.

Spawned from Idle No More, fueled by the Water Protectors and the No DAPL movement, A Tribe Called Red’s skillful mix of traditional vocals with innovative, electronic compositions has never sounded better.

On July 31, the very brown crowd experiencing the final evening of Artown immediately reacted to the music.

Furthermore, the concert-goers overwhelmingly expressed their endorsement when the male trio invited three local pow wow dancers—Teresa, Tziavi and Pasutyva Melendez–to join the group on stage.

Soaring to the beat, the jingle dancer and two fancy dancers decorated the stage with additional flare and energy.

“There are a lot of like-minded people and we are trying to rally them, in the way only Indigenous people know how to rally people,” DJ NDN also called Ian Campeau told Mic, an on-line magazine.  “That’s creating nationhoods.”

And that is what Artown did in Reno on the closing night of its month-long party.


Colony to Allow Passive Recreation in Hungry Valley

The Reno-Sparks Indian Colony Tribal Council will allow certain uses by the public of the 13,343 acres the tribe recently reacquired under the Nevada Native Nations Land Act.

Allowed & Prohibited Use Hungry Valley Map

With a priority on better land management, the RSIC Tribal Council passed a resolution which allows for nondestructive, peaceful uses of the lands such as hiking, bicycling, horseback riding, day parking of vehicles in designated areas, geocaching, and cross country running, without the need of a permit.

“We want to establish good relationships with the whole community,” said Chairman Arlan D. Melendez. “Though we expected a longer time frame to transition the management of the land with the Bureau of Land Management, our goal is to inform and work closely with our neighbors as we manage our land in Hungry Valley.”

In addition, the RSIC leadership restated unacceptable activity on the land including: dumping, target shooting, random discharge of firearms, hunting, camping without a permit, camp fires and other fires, use of fireworks, disturbance of cultural sites, or use of alcohol.

Furthermore, the Colony will allow all-terrain vehicles (e.g., quads, utility terrain vehicles or motorcycles) only to pass through the land on a designated route to outside use areas, and for the period ending Dec. 31, 2017, will allow these all-terrain vehicles on certain established trails within a designated areas in the Hungry Valley addition adjacent to Spanish Springs.

A map with those designated areas will be posted soon on the RSIC website: www.rsic.org and at the existing kiosks on those lands.

We appreciate the patience and understanding of the general public as we take necessary steps to allow the land to recover and heal due to overuse from multiple activities,” Melendez said. “We have identified a number of priorities and our staff will be working on these so we can better manage our land.”

This management plan includes designating emergency access and evacuations routes,

completing an exterior boundary survey in coordination with BLM, installing information
signage, inventory of environmental and cultural resources, and development of a
transportation plan.All uses will be considered again by the Tribal Council before Dec. 31, 2017.“Our resolution allows us to monitor the land usage, reevaluate and modify or extend this policy,” Chairman Melendez said.

Inaugural Native American Basketball Showcase Gives Student Athletes Chance to Perform

Native American basketball showcase gives players a chance to show their skills
(click link to News 4 coverage)

In an effort to promote and show public support for young people, the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony invited 50 student athletes and a dozen educators to coach these players in the 1st Annual All-Native American High School Basketball Showcase.

Among the United States’ 565 federal recognized American Indian tribes, Native Americans are the most under-represented ethnicity on college athletics teams. Despite the difficulties finding their way onto an NCAA team, let alone becoming a high profile athlete, history is dotted with famous Native Americans athletes and their noteworthy accomplishments.

In the 20th century, Jim Thorpe, a Sac & Fox Indian, won two Olympic gold medals, played professional baseball and football and became the first president of the league that would become the NFL. Billy Mills, a Sioux who came off the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, scored one of the biggest upsets in Olympic history when he won the 10,000 meters in 1964.

Just last March, the NCAA Basketball Championships featured Native American standout players including: Bronson Koenig, Derek Willis, Lindy Waters III, Caitlyn Ramirez, and Chelsea Dungee.

Locally,  MorningRose Tobey plays for the University of Nevada Women’s basketball team, while Angelica Shanrock, a 2017 graduate of Spanish Springs High, signed a letter of intent to play colligate ball at College of Skskiyous.


All My Relaytions Completes Reno-Tahoe Odyssey Relay Run

Captained by the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony’s Toby Stump,  the 11-member, all Native American team, All My Relaytions completed the 178-mile run that goes around Lake Tahoe, through the Carson Valley, up to Virginia City, and back to the finish line at Idlewild Park in Reno.

In addition to the RSIC Tribal Council, several RSIC departments contributed to sponsoring the team including the Reno-Sparks Tribal Health Center, the RSIC Education and Recreation Department.

Starting from downtown Reno on Friday at 10 a.m., the team crossed the finish line about 3 p.m., on Saturday.

Starting the run, RSIC’s Chandler Sampson, wearing headphones, starts the first leg of the  178-mile Reno Tahoe Odyssey Adventure.















Future Spaghetti Bowl Design, Construction Studied; Severe Impact at RSIC Likely

Anyone who has used the Interstate 80/Interstate 580 interchange, or the Spaghetti Bowl, knows that this area is the Achilles’ heel of Reno – Sparks roadways.

Originally constructed between 1969 and 1971 for a metropolitan population of about 130,000 people, the interchange now sees about 118,000 vehicles daily on I-80 just west of the Spaghetti Bowl, while another 102,000 travel U.S. 395 just north of the interchange, according to the Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT).

The Washoe County Consensus Forecast, a written report of projected population, forecasted growth rate exceeding state and national averages though 2030. According to this same report, the population of Washoe County is projected to be 548,159 people in 2036.

The number of collisions at the Spaghetti Bowl nearly doubled in the last five years, growing from 598 crashes in 2011 to 1,060 in 2015.

Additionally, someone was injured in a crash near the interchange almost every day in 2015.

These alarming statics compelled Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval to emphasize, during his 2017 state of state address, the need for safety measures for the interchange.

So, NDOT and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), in cooperation with the Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) will be proposing improvements, specifically to reconstruct the interchange, to accommodate the future travel demands in Washoe County.

According to project’s website, the plan is expected to increase safety and improve operations for both current and future traffic needs.

However, for citizens and community members of the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony, this potentially $500 million project which is projected to be designed by 2020 and constructed by 2030, might mean smoother highway traffic patterns, but the reconfiguration of nearby exits might negatively impact the Tribe as well.

“For over 100 years, the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony has worked to improve the quality of life for its Tribal members and to develop a self-sufficient economy,” said Chairman Arlan D. Melendez. “Our tribal members rely on the East 2nd street and Glendale avenue interchange to access their homes and to obtain government and health care services.”

Chairman Melendez explained that a closure or change in access to these critical exits / entries could negatively impact the tribal members’ ability to access areas off the reservation for employment and personal needs.

He said that increased traffic would cause a domino effect increasing traffic on Golden lane and Reservation road through established neighborhoods, educational and government facilities.

Moreover, Chairman Melendez noted that regional partners along with the RSIC have spent millions of dollars to redevelop and improve former blighted properties near the current Spaghetti Bowl. These improvements have helped advance local government plans and development goals, and federal policies toward tribes.

“The East 2nd street, Glendale avenue interchange provides critical access for customers visiting Tribal Enterprises and businesses like our smoke shops and Walmart at Three Nations Plaza,” Chairman Melendez said. “Any temporary disruption for businesses during construction activities will negatively impact our tribal government revenues.”

Chairman Melendez said that this construction along with the final design, could have a significant, long-term impact on tribal employment and future employment, which are directly tied to tribal revenues.

However, the planning design, as well as future construction for the Spaghetti Bowl requires compliance with the federal law, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

NEPA requires federal agencies including the FHWA, to assess the environmental effects of a proposed project prior to making decisions. It establishes a framework for environmental review and ensures public and agency participation in the process. Finally, the federal process is intended to help agencies like NDOT and RTC, consider environmental consequences and avoid, minimize, or mitigate environmental impact. The NEPA process for the Spaghetti Bowl project began in March and is expected to continue through May 2020.

Indian Country has great concern as to the environmental impacts to the earth; but the negative social and economic impacts are just as important.

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the range of actions covered by NEPA is broad and includes making decisions on permit applications and constructing highways and other publicly-owned facilities. The possibility of fast-tracking through the NEPA has already been suggested.

In January, a board member for NDOT asked whether the state might escape those intensive environmental studies under an executive order signed by United States President Donald Trump. The board member said that the intent of that order was that all public projects would be exempt from the environmental process.

However, NDOT Director Rudy Malfabon said that he doubts the Spaghetti Bowl could be exempted because of “significant issues with the river and tribal lands…” as Interstate 80 goes over the Truckee River and the freeway passes right next to the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony. Malfabon also told the Northern Nevada Business Weekly that federal money will finance up to 90 percent of the project and bonds should cover the rest.

Malfabon and NDOT Senior Project Manager Nick Johnson outlined seven goals for the improvements which include:

1. Accelerated Delivery: Complete NEPA in 3-and-a-half years or less
2. Long Term Relief: Develop ultimate project to meet 2040 demands
3. Public Support: Secure endorsement from local governments and a favorable opinion from the public
4. Right-of-Way: Minimize displacements
5. Safety: Prioritize project based on eliminating/reducing high accident areas
6. Operations: Create interchange system fully functional and easily navigable within project limits
7. Aesthetics: Enhance the community’s driving experience through visually appealing improvements to the project area



National Museum of the American Indian Director Visits Reno-Sparks Indian Colony

The Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) has been charged by Congress with building a National Native American Veterans Memorial, and on Monday, veterans and had a chance to comment on the pending design and construction.

Native Americans have served in the United States military in every major conflict since the Revolutionary War. In recent decades, they have served in greater numbers per capita than any other ethnic group.

So, the museum has begun preliminary plans to construct this memorial in the next four years to give all Americans the opportunity to learn of the proud and courageous tradition of service of Native Americans in the Armed Forces of the United States.

The NMAI and the advisory committee are currently conducting consultations to share plans for the memorial and to seek input and support. Regional events, like the one being held at the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony (RSIC), bring together tribal leaders, Native veterans, and community members.

RSIC Tribal Chairman Arlan D. Melendez, a Marine Corps veteran, co-hosted a consultation for the memorial at the Reno-Sparks Tribal Health Care Center on May 1.  Veterans, their family members, professionals whom work with veterans and members of the community attended.
The service and sacrifice of Native American veterans, including American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians, spans nearly two and a half centuries of American history. During World War II, over 44,000 Native Americans served in the U.S. military. Hundreds of Hopi, Navajo, Comanche, and other Native language speakers—Code Talkers—played a crucial role. More than 42,000 Native Americans served during the Vietnam War.

Today, the U.S. Department of Defense estimates more than 24,000 American Indian and Alaska Native men and women are on active duty, and more than 150,000 veterans self-identify as American Indian or Alaska Native.

An advisory committee for the memorial has been formed, led by the Honorable Ben Nighthorse Campbell (Northern Cheyenne) and Chickasaw Nation Lieutenant Governor Jefferson Keel. The group, composed of tribal leaders and veterans from across Native America, is assisting with outreach to communities and veterans and advising on plans for the memorial.

In the fall of 2020, the museum will launch a juried competition to select a design for the memorial. The National Native American Veterans Memorial will be located prominently on the museum’s grounds on the National Mall, between the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum and the U.S. Capitol. The dedication ceremony is planned for Veterans Day 2020, to unveil the memorial and honor the immense contributions and patriotism of Native Americans in the U.S. Armed Forces.

Nominations to Serve on Secretarial Election Board Needed

The Reno-Sparks Indian Colony Tribal Council is soliciting nominations of Colony members to fill three positions on the Secretarial Election Board. The Board consists of a Chairman (most likely Robert “RJ” Eben, the BIA Western Nevada Agency Superintendent), two BIA personnel, and three Colony members.

This Election Board is separate from the RSIC Election Board. The Board will only be active if the Tribal Council makes a formal request to the BIA to hold a Secretarial Election.

The Secretarial Election Board’s main functions include deciding appeals on whether someone is eligible to be a registered voter for this election and deciding challenges to the election results, and several pre-election actions such as establishing deadlines and posting election results, and may include assisting the BIA with sending correspondence to members.

Minimum qualifications for these positions are that the individual must be an enrolled Colony member at least 18 years of age.

If you, or someone you know, are interested in serving on this Election Board, please send a written request to Arlan D. Melendez, Chairman of RSIC no later than April 25, 2017. The three individuals to fill these positions will be selected by the Tribal Council.

New Hungry Valley Borders

In accordance with the Nevada Native Nations Land Act, the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony Tribal Council, along with Tribal Police and Hungry Valley Fire departments wish to remind all community members that the RSIC now has jurisdiction of the 15,354 acres in the Valley.

If you see or hear illegal activities—shooting, dumping, alcohol use, or off-road vehicle activity outside designated routes and areas, please call the tribal police at 323-2677 or 240-9775.

Allowed & Prohibited Use Map
Nevada Native Nations Act – Public Law-114publ232