Colony’s Newest Resident Born Unexpectedly at Home

When Reno-Sparks Indian Colony Tribal Police Officers are contacted by emergency dispatch, there is always uncertainty, but with 14 years in uniform, RSIC Tribal Police Officer Angelo Hafalla is not often caught off guard.

However, a call to a home on Reservation Road on Aug. 9 was nothing like Hafalla has ever experienced.

“When I received the call to respond, I was only advised that a woman was in labor,” Hafalla said. “There was no other information at that time, because dispatch was still gathering 911 call information from the woman’s mother.”

Hafalla said that after the recent Pyramid Lake /Tule Fire, he was careful, prepared and scared at the same time.

“Once I confirmed that it was a medical emergency, I thought of keeping the mother safe and calm, of keeping her medically stable, and continuing the flow of real-time information through dispatch until the paramedics arrived,” Hafalla said.

Once the police officer entered the home and observed the scene though, even Hafalla, a father of one, was stunned.

“The mother had already done all the work and she was holding the baby in her arms in the family’s bathroom,” Hafalla said. “I assisted the mother to sit on a chair and wrapped towels around both the baby and the mother.”

Hafalla said the baby was crying and the mother was calm.

So, Hafalla eagerly shared the good news with the emergency dispatcher and shortly thereafter, paramedics and the fire department arrived at the home.

For his actions, Hafalla received a letter of commendation. “Never in my 20 years with the RSIC police department, have we had an officer respond to the delivery of a baby,” said Sgt. Nida Harjo. “We never know what situation we are coming into and this was a first.”

Hafalla has been a member of the RSIC Tribal Police Department since 2011.

He is well-known throughout the Colony for his friendly demeanor, especially by young people.

Hafalla has worked with RSIC and Pyramid Lake youth for 12 years as a DARE Officer.

For his outstanding actions with the birth of the newest resident of the RSIC, Harjo presented Hafalla with his letter of commendation as well as an Exemplary Service Award.

Moreover, regardless of the remarkable experience of helping bring new life to our community, the RSIC Tribal Police Department, Harjo and Hafalla’s primary concern was and still remains with the baby boy and his entire family.

“I was so happy to hear that baby, mom, grandparents and the siblings are doing well,” Hafalla said.

Harjo also chimed in sending the family congratulations and best wishes.

“Our entire department wants to congratulate the family,” Harjo said.

For his assistance in delivering a healthy baby boy to the RSIC community, Officer Hafalla was honored.
For his assistance in delivering a healthy baby boy to the RSIC community, Officer Hafalla was honored.

Editor’s note: The following content is from Officer Hafalla’s letter of commendation: On behalf of the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony Police Department, I would like to take this opportunity to give recognition to Officer Angelo Hafalla.

Officer Hafalla displayed his professionalism in a calm manner without hesitation assessed the situation on:

Assisting on the delivery of a healthy baby boy on 08-09-2016 Officer Hafalla has proven not only to the Police Department, but also to the community that he will go above and beyond the call of duty without question or hesitation.

I commend you, Officer Hafalla, for your unselfish acts and tireless efforts that have proven you have served with honor, dedication and selflessness and an example for all to follow. Thank you for your service to the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony.

Sincerely, Sgt. Nida Harjo.


Proclamation: Celebrating 80-Years of Sovereignty

WHEREAS: The Reno-Sparks Indian Colony Tribal Government was formally established
on January 15, 1936, whereby, under the Indian Reorganization Act (IRA), the Tribal Constitution and By-Laws were approved by the United States Secretary of the Interior; and

WHEREAS: In order to establish a legal tribal organization under the IRA, and to secure and exercise certain privileges and powers, and to create governing units through which we may properly assume our responsibilities, and;

WHEREAS: The adoption of our Constitution and By-Laws was the first step in our progress toward self-determination and self-governance; and

WHEREAS: The passage of our Constitution and By-Laws established the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony as a Federally recognized Tribe with certain rights of home rule for our people; and

WHEREAS: The passage of our Constitution and By-Laws has greatly enhanced our Tribal
Sovereignty which was bestowed to us by the Creator; and

WHEREAS: The passage of our Constitution and By-Laws helped establish our Tribal territory, define our membership, our governing body, powers of the Tribal Council, rights of Tribal members, and other processes of our government; and

WHEREAS: Though much has changed in these past 80-years, the resolve of the Numa, the Newe and the Washeshu has not. From our early origins of government, to its 80th anniversary, the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony continues to evolve while preserving its unique, rich and sacred past. We thrive by the sacrifice of our elders, the vision of our youth, and the spirit of our

THEREFORE: I, Arlan D. Melendez, Chairman of the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony, do hereby
recognize our 80-years of sovereignty on the occasion of our 80th anniversary and call the
observance to the attention of our entire community.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF: Done this day on the very land designated in 1936 as home to the Paiute, Shoshone and Washoe peoples, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the RSIC, to be affixed this 15th day of January in the year of our Lord two thousand sixteen.

Arlan D. Melendez, Chairman
Reno-Sparks Indian Colony

Sovereignty Proclamation
Though much has changed in the past 8- year, the resolve of the Numa, the Newe, and the Washeshu has not.




Army Warrior Visits Home During Stateside Assignment

Since he was 10-years-old, Derek Zackary Imus has wanted to be a tribal police officer.

“I love being around Reno and I have always wanted to be a cop,” said Imus, a member of the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony (RSIC).

However, there is an age minimum, 21 years, to become a police officer, and after graduating from Spanish Springs High at 17, Imus had to wait before attending Peace Officer Stands and Training (POST).

“I sort of had a gap,” Imus said.

Derek "Zack" Imus
Derek “Zack” Imus

So, as his high school graduation approached, Imus sought career counsel from RSIC Tribal Police Sgt. Nida Harjo.

“I’m not really a school kind of person and Sgt. Harjo suggested that I explore the military,” Imus said.

That advice led Imus to enlist in the United States Army in 2013.

Now a Patriot Missile Operator, specialist Imus is ecstatic with his decision, yet he still has plans to return home and become a tribal police officer once he concludes his service to his country.

“Thanks to the Army, I have gotten to see so much; a lot more than most people,” Imus said, “especially since I come off the reservation.”

After his basic training at Fort Sill in Oklahoma, Imus has been stationed in two Middle Eastern countries,
Kuwait and Bahrain.

Kuwait is northeast of Saudi Arabia and south of Iraq. A low-lying desert where the temperatures can reach 126 F degrees, Kuwait is a little bigger than   Hawaii, very sandy and barren, and about 85 percent of Kuwaiti citizens are Muslim. American troops first arrived in Kuwait in 1992, after the Iraqi invasion of 1990.

There are eight US military bases in Kuwait and Imus worked at Ahmed Al Jaber Air Base and Arifjan Army Base. Bahrain, also an island, is connected to Saudi Arabia by a causeway.

Bahrain, 34 miles long and 11 miles wide, has always been an important center of trade and recently, it has become an international financial center. However, conflicts between the Shiite and Sunni Muslims are a recurring problem. The US has a written cooperative agreement with Bahrain which calls for the US to operate a base in Bahrain, but there has been a US Naval presence in the area since 1948.

There are two US military bases in Bahrain and Imus worked at Naval Regional Contracting Center, Detachment Bahrain (NRCC) in Riffa.

Even though he works on weapons, Imus has never seen combat.

“I’m in the middle and everything is happening around us,” Imus said. “I did not see action, because my job involves a weapon which serves as a deterrent.”

Patriots are surface-to-air missiles which can shoot down other missiles or even aircraft.
As a Patriot missile operator, Imus focuses on maintenance of electrical parts. Imus said that the Patriot missile has four major components: communications, command and control, radar surveillance, and missile guidance. The missiles have an advanced aerial interceptor missile and high-performance radar systems which allow a Patriot missile to shoot down other missiles before those missiles have a chance to hit their target.

According to Raytheon, a leading technology company which specializes in military defense weapons, the Patriot Air and Missile Defense System is the world’s most advanced air and missile defense system.

With his Patriot missiles expertise, Imus said there are future job opportunities for him in Germany and Great Britain. However, with his discharge date just four months away, Imus is focused on returning to his RSIC community and finding a job in law enforcement.

“It was a big change when I joined the Army, I have loved seeing the different cultures, but I miss my family,” Imus said.

The son of Rita Imus, grandson of Kenny and Vicki Moore, Imus has two sisters, Shaylin and Danae Astor, plus he is very close to his aunt Veronica Imus and cousin, Terrell O’Neil.

Even though a three-year stint in the US Army has given Imus the chance to travel to foreign countries and learn about other cultures, he said now and again, he comes across other Native Americans.

“Pound for pound, there are more Natives in the military than other ethnicities,” Imus said in reference to the overall population of American Indians and their high rate of participation in the US Armed Forces. “Plus, you know instantly if another soldier is Native, you just can feel it.”

Imus said he has met some American Indians from the eastern part of the country.

“It’s nice because we have so much in common,” Imus said. “Going from the rez (reservation) to the military, we really understand the military’s cultural change, so we connect.”

Imus said that he has built another type of connection working with the same group of men and women for the last three years.

“I know each of them and they know me,” Imus said. “They are my second family.”

Of course, no group compares to his own tribe. “There are a few things about the military I don’t really care for—the food (rice and beans), the lack of privacy (group showers), and being away from my family is by far the worst part,” Imus said.

Much to his liking, on the first evening of a recent 9-day visit to Hungry Valley, he was welcomed back with a massive celebration including great food—tasty barbeque and 40 family members.

U.S. Specialist Zack Imus visits with RSIC Chairman Arlan D. Melendez.
U.S. Specialist Zack Imus visits with RSIC Chairman Arlan D. Melendez.

Reno Artown Partners With Reno-Sparks Indian Colony

IMG_0803 – Double click to see the Great Basin Native American Cultural Fair’s community round dance

DSC_0163Artown incorporated Great Basin Native American culture into its July calendar with an event hosted by the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony today.

“The Reno-Sparks Indian Colony was thrilled to share its culture with the entire Artown community,” said Michon Eben, the RSIC’s Tribal Historic Preservation Officer and Cultural Resources Manager.  “Since Artown’s mission is to strengthen Reno’s arts industry, enhance its civic identity and national image, it is certainly in keeping with the goal of our community to provide authentic Native American art and experiences.”

The Great Basin Native American Cultural Fair included live demonstrations and performances as well as over 20 vendors.

The demonstrations included a textile illustration and explanation by RSIC community member Jack Mallot and silversmith techniques presented by Ralph Thomas, a RSIC tribal member. DSC_0175
Plus, two renowned drum groups, the Young Chiefs from the Great Basin and The Mankillers, an all women’s group, performed as  thirty-plus Native American pow wow dancers in full regalia participated.

The Great Basket Basket Weavers were on hand as well as  fine artists, beaders, and general crafters.

Organized by the RSIC’s Tribal Historic Preservation Office, the success of the event increased the likelihood that Artown and the RSIC will continue to partner for future events.                 


Community Honors Warriors On Memorial Day

Telling on-lookers that as Native Americans, we have a sacred duty to keep the legacy of our nation’s warriors forever fresh in the memories of future generations, the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony Chairman, Arlan D. Melendez, led the tribe’s annual Memorial Day remembrance celebration last month.

“Our warriors have always fought for Mother Earth even before the United States
became a country,” Chairman Melendez said. “Native Americans have and always will protect our land no matter who the government authority is because this is our land, and that is why American Indians volunteer for military service
at a greater proportion than any other ethnicity.”

Chairman Melendez, a Marine who served during the Vietnam Conflict, began the ceremony by telling the crowd how Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in service of the
United States of America.

Chairman Melendez said that Memorial Day was borne out of the Civil War and a desire to honor our dead. The Chairman explained that in 1868, General John Logan, a commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, suggested that Decoration Day should be held for the purpose of decorating graves and in 1971 with Congressional approval of the National Holiday Act the last Monday in May officially became Memorial Day.

“This is a day when all Americans join together to remember the sacrifices of those who answered their nation’s call,” Chairman Melendez said. “Especially for those of us veterans who came home, there is a lot to be thankful for, despite the everyday trials and tribulations of life.”

In addition to Chairman Melendez’s remarks, volunteers added United States flags to all the graves of Native veterans at the Mountain View Cemetery near the downtown Colony and at the Hungry Valley Memorial Cemetery of the tribe’s rural reservation.

Augustin Jorquez, pastor at the Hungry Valley Christian Fellowship Church, told the on-lookers that Memorial Day is meant to bring all people together.

“Regardless of ideologies, race, creed, or political persuasion, we join together to remember the sacrifices of our tribal ancestors,” Jorquez said. “The freedoms that so many Americans enjoy today were paid for with the flesh and blood and with the tears of those whose lives were changed forever by the loss
of a loved.”

RSIC Departed Warriors
ABBIE, James, U.S. Marine
ALECK, Harold, U.S. Marine
ALECK, John, U.S. Marine
ALECK, Vira, U.S. Army/Air
ANTUNOVICH, Andrew, U.S. Navy
ASTOR, Wilbur, U.S. Army
BAKER, Robert Sr., U.S. Marine
BELL, Stanley, U.S. Marine
BONTA, Rodney, U.S. Army
CHAVEZ, Clarence, U.S. Marine
CHAVEZ, Leland, U.S. Navy
CHRISTY, Cecil, U.S. Army
CHRISTY, Kenneth, U.S. Navy
CHRISTY, Leroy, U.S. Army
COFFMAN, Michael Sr., U.S. Army
COFFEY, Max, U.S. Marine
COFFEY, William, U.S. Marine
CYPHER, Cleveland Sr., U.S. Army
CYPHER, Cleveland Jr., U.S. Marine
CYPHER, Curtis, U.S. Army
DALE, Kee Sr., U.S. Navy
DELORME, Jack J., U.S. Marine
DIXON, Ethel, U.S. Marine
DRESSLER, John Jr., U.S. Air Force
DUNBAR, Joseph, U.S. Army
EAGLE, Harvey, U.S. Army
EBEN, Carlos T., U.S. Army
EBEN, Leslie Sr., U.S. Navy
GIBBONS, Leland W., U.S. Marine
GIBSON, Gordon, Sr., U.S. Army
GUERRERO, Kenneth, U.S. Navy
GUERRERO, Robert, U.S. Marine
HARDIN, Cordell, U.S. Marine
HARDIN, Kenneth, U.S. Navy
HARJO, Margaret, U.S. Army Cadet
HARRINGTON, Ernie, U.S. Marine
JIM, James
JOHNSON, Brady Sr., U.S. Navy
JOHNSON, Brady, Jr., U.S. Navy
JOHNSON, Oscar Jr., U.S. Navy
JOHNSON, Oscar Sr., U.S. Army
KANE, George, U.S. Army/Air Corps
LANGWEATHER, Barney, U.S. Army
MAHONE, Patrick, U.S. Army
McCANN, Terry, U.S. Army
McDADE, Clarence, Army National Guard, & U.S. Coast Guard
MELENDEZ, Valentine, U.S. Marine
MILLER, Leslie, U.S. Marine
MOOSE, Willis, U.S. Army
NEZ, Freeland, U.S. Marine
NUMAN, Bert, U.S. Army
NUMAN, Eugene, U.S. Navy
NUMAN, Irving, U.S. Army
NUMAN, Vernon, U.S. Air Force
OCHIO, Carlos, U.S. Marine
O’DAYE, Stressler, U.S. Marine
O’NEIL, Irving, U.S. Army
O’NEIL, Louis, U.S. Marine
PAJINAM, Percy, U.S. Army
PANCHO, Clark, U.S. Marine
PANCHO, Donald, U.S. Marine
PANCHO, Hastings, U.S. Army
PANCHO, Hastings Sr., U.S. Navy
PETE, Thomas, U.S. Army
RIDLEY, Donald, U.S. Air Force
RIDLEY, Harold, U.S. Army
RIDLEY, Jack, U.S. Air Force
RIVERS, Joseph Jr., U.S. Army
SAM, Leroy Sr., U.S. Army
SAMPSON, Reginald U.S. Army
SAMPSON, Floyd Sr., U.S. Army
SANCHEZ, Charles Sr., US Marine
SANCHEZ, John, US Army
SANCHEZ, Tony Sr., U.S. Army
SHAW, Leonard, U.S. Army
SHAW, Robert, U.S. Navy
SMITH, Wilmer, U.S. Army
STEWART, Warren, U.S. Army
THOMAS, Albert D., U.S. Army
THOMAS, Harry D. Sr., National Guard
TOBEY, Kenneth, U.S. Army
TOBEY, Wayne D., U.S. Air Force
TOM, Clyde, U.S. Marine
WADSWORTH, Woodrow, U.S. Marine
WHEELER, Marvin, U.S. Army
WYATT, Harold, U.S. Air Force


Reno-Sparks Indian Colony Signs Historic Agreement with Health District

Today, leaders of the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony (RSIC) and Washoe County Health District officials signed a historic Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) providing use of tribal facilities as Points of Dispensing (PODS) during public health emergencies.

“We have to work together because the threat of terrorism and the possibilities of pandemics entering our country make it a difficult time,” said RSIC Chairman Arlan D. Melendez. “We have to plan and train together for the safety and wellbeing of all people.”

The agreement, which will fast-track medications during public health emergencies, was solidified at a ceremony held at the Reno-Sparks Tribal Health Center.

“This is the first signed agreement between a tribe and a county within the state of Nevada,” said Daniel Thayer, the Emergency Response Coordinator for the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony. “It’s historic.”

A historic agreement calls for the RSTHC and the Washoe County Health District to partner in certain emergency situations.

According to health and tribal officials, the MOU will provide continued collaboration and regional partnership between RSIC and Washoe County Health District by increasing infrastructure and resource sharing in the distribution of prophylaxis medications in a public health emergency.

PODS can quickly provide massive numbers of life-saving medications to large numbers of people during emergencies. Additionally PODS can be set up in neighborhoods and community centers that people can get to easily.

“This agreement will allow us, in case of an emergency,  to push out large amounts of medications in a very short time,” said Stephen Shipman, the Washoe County Health District Emergency Response Coordinator.  “In order to get this done, it involves  medical experts and we have to have professionals who are capable of doing that and the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony’s Health Center is.”

Several tribal and local officials attended the ceremony including  Arlan D. Melendez, Chairman of the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony and Mr. Kevin Dick, Washoe County District Health Officer; members of the Reno-Sparks Tribal Council Jody McCloud and Jacqueline Quoetone;  members of Washoe County District Board of Health: Reno Council Member Oscar Delgado, Dr. John Novak, City of Sparks Representative. and County Commissioner Bob Lucey.

The Reno-Sparks Tribal Health Center (RSTHC) is a tribally-owned and operated clinic, location on the Colony.  With a mission to enhancing the quality of life of all of American Indians by providing a culturally competent and patient-centered continuum of care.

“This Memorandum of Understanding is the product of coordinating emergency plans between RSIC and the Health District that will also provide training and exercise opportunities for our agencies,” said Washoe County District Health Officer Kevin Dick.  “Public health preparedness is dependent of people working together to plan and practice our response efforts so that we can save lives when emergencies happen.”

The RSTHC plays a major role as part of the continuing health care for eligible American Indians / Alaskan Natives in the Reno-Sparks metropolitan area. With a staff of over 100 employees, the facility services over 1,100 tribal members and nearly 7,000 Urban Indians.

Since opening its 65,000-square-foot health center in 2008,  the RSTHC’s dedicated team of highly-trained clinicians continues to offer a wide range of services include: adult medicine, pediatrics, mental health services, basic laboratory services, comprehensive dental care for children and adults, substance abuse services, pharmacy, eye care, nutrition, diabetes care, home visitation and injury prevention services.

The Washoe County District Board of Health, through the Washoe County Health District, has jurisdiction over all public health matters in Washoe County. Its mission is to protect and enhance the quality of life for all citizens of Washoe County through health promotion, disease prevention, public health emergency preparedness, and environmental services. The Board of Health is composed of seven members, including two representatives each from Reno, Sparks, and Washoe County, and a physician licensed to practice medicine in Nevada.









Creative Prevention Programs Build Healthy Attitudes

Sometimes, children cannot help but learn.

“Vegetables can be really good,” believes Preston Sam, one of 19 children who recently enjoyed a cooking class, compliments of the Reno-Sparks Tribal Health Center.

After two hours of learning proper kitchen techniques, plus dicing, slicing, and flipping, Sam’s new understanding of vegetables wasn’t just about taste.

“You should count your colors,” said Gracie El-Chamas. “The more colors you eat the healthier and better your food is.”

Feedback like this made Kristie Messerli’s heart soar.

A registered dietitian and nutritionist at the Reno-Sparks Tribal Health Center Messerli has been organizing creative programs, like the Nothing To It Cooking Classes, to reshaping food and nutrition attitudes of all the RSTHC patients, with special focus on youth.

DSC_0028“Because our community is faced with high rates of childhood obesity and diabetes, eating habits are very, very important,” Messerli said. “If we can teach our children to make good choices when they are young, it will help them maintain a healthy lifestyle when they are adults.”

With oversight and directions from three adult instructors, the RSTHC kids learned the proper way to maintain a cooking area while preparing food. The instructions emphasized kitchen safety, not just from sharp utensils or hot pots and pans, but the importance of a germ free environment. The students were thoroughly schooled about washing hands and cooking instruments and surfaces.

The students made several items including healthy frozen banana and yogurt snacks, quesadillas, and Sloppy Joes loaded with fresh vegetables.

“I wasn’t very excited about coming because I thought it would be a bunch of little kids,” said Makayla Tom, “But I really had a fun time and now, I am glad my aunt made me come.”

Tom wasn’t the only reluctant participant, however, Messerli has a solution.

Messerli said that involving your children in food shopping and preparing meals will naturally stimulate interest in a healthy lifestyle.

“Take your children to the grocery store,” Messerli said. “This will give you an opportunity to teach your children about nutrition, and provide your kids with a feeling of empowerment and accomplishment.”

Messerli added that kids might be more willing to eat or try foods that they help prepare. Furthermore, the United States Department of Health & Human Services reports that Native American diets and food practices have changed more (for the worse) than any other ethnic group in the United States.

DSC_0041Accordingly, for about the last two hundred years, most aspects of the lifestyles of Great Basin Native Americans have changed including our cooking and eating patterns.

In modern day, although the current diet of Native Americans may vary by tribe, and by personal traits such as age (e.g., young versus old), Native families eat similarly to the rest of the American population. These habits have caused serious health problems throughout Indian County.

The USDA website includes a recent study found that only 10 percent of Native Americans have a healthful diet, while 90 percent have a poor quality that needs improvement. The majority of Native Americans have diets that are too high in fat (62 percent). Only 21 percent eat the recommended amount of fruit on any given day, while 34 percent eat the recommended amount of vegetables, 24 percent eat the recommended amount of grains, and 27 percent consume the recommended amount of dairy products.

More troubling, Native Americans are also four times more likely to report not having enough to eat than other U.S. households according to the National Institute of Health.

For complex reasons, Native Americans have experienced high rates of poverty and unemployment, and families often struggle to put enough food, much less healthy enough food, on their table.

One reason is that healthy and fresh foods tend to be more expensive and are often simply unavailable in low-income and rural communities.

In addition, Indian Health Service reports that American Indian and Alaska Native youth, ages 10 through 19, are nine times more likely as Non-Hispanic White youth to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

In response, two years ago, the National Congress of American Indians, the oldest, largest and most representative American Indian organization serving the broad interests of tribal governments, urged tribes to invest in positive nutrition education and physical activity habits which will lead to healthier lifestyles.

And that is exactly what is happening at our health center. “All the programs sponsored by the RSTHC Diabetes Program and the 3 Nations Wellness Center—cooking classes, bowling, swimming, walk/runs, Friday Try Days—they are all about building positive attitudes about nutrition and exercise which are essential for healthy lifestyles.

For more information about the healthy offerings at the RSTHC, please phone Kristie Messerli at (775) 329-5162, ext. 1943 or email her at: .


Earth Day Gardening Project: Successful Spring Kickoff

Judy Martin, (right) the assistant in the RSIC Language & Culture Program helps Jeremy Souza smooth the soil for a new plant in the healing garden.

In honor of Earth Day, several departments at the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony joined forces to prepare the healing garden located at the RSIC Language and Culture yard.

The public works department got the program started by preparing the soil, repairing the water drip system, and building trellises for the plants.

“Public works did a great job getting our garden ready to plant,” said Bhie-Cie Ledesma, the RSIC’s Environmental Specialist.

On Earth Day, April 22, RSIC staffers from language and culture, environmental, plus the Reno child care program, planted culturally significant items like snap peas, tomatoes, strawberries, mint, corn, and sunflowers.

Moreover, several youth from the child care program dug in the earth, planted seeds and vegetation, and turned the soil with adult supervision.

“The wind was so strong and our little ones were having a hard time seeing,” Ledesma said. “Even so, everyone had fun and now we are looking forward to the growing process.”

Ledesma added, thanks to public works, the garden has an automatic watering system.  She said that the students from Child Care will be visiting the healing garden on a regular
basis and will even be helping weed the area.

Eventually, these young, dedicated gardeners will enjoy the fruits, and the vegetables
of their labor.

“The kids will get to eat what they grow,” Ledesma said.

An annual celebration, Earth Day began in 1970 and has grown into a global event
recognized by over 192 countries.

According to Ledesma, devoting a special day for the earth is a way to demonstrate how much we care about the future of our planet.

“No matter what you like to do best, there is a way to get involved in Earth Day,” she said. “You can plant a tree, make a meal with locally-grown vegetables, educate a family member, clean up trash in your neighborhood, set up a bird feeder or save power — the possibilities are   endless.”

One of the most popular options which people of all ages enjoy is gardening. Children
specifically, will have a lot of fun and there are special benefits.

Gardening is educational and develops new skills including:
▪  Responsibility – from
caring for plants and the earth
▪  Understanding – as they learn about cause and effect (for example, plants die without water, weeds compete with plants)
▪  Self-confidence – from achieving their goals and enjoying the food they have grown
▪  Love of nature – a chance to learn about the outdoor
environment in a safe and pleasant place
▪  Reasoning and discovery – learning about the science
of plants, animals, weather, the environment, nutrition and
simple construction
▪  Physical activity – doing fun and productive activities
▪  Cooperation – including shared play activity and teamwork
▪  Creativity – finding new and exciting ways to grow food
▪  Nutrition – learning appreciation about where fresh, local food comes from

Furthermore, according to National Geographic author Dan Buettner, he found
anecdotal evidence, about how gardeners live up to 14 years longer than non-gardeners.

IMG_3415 earth Day
With adult help, little ones from the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony’s Child Care Program battled harsh conditions, but planted a beautiful healing garden outside the library. Photo by Bucky Harjo