Community Health & Wellness Survey Searches for Data

The Reno-Sparks Tribal Health Center has a lofty goal, but it needs community input to be successful.

“We want to make our community healthier and we want to make our health center better,” said Cordelia Abel-Johnson, community health supervisor and the project site coordinator. “We need to know what direction to take, to develop, and improve what we’re doing,”

Selected staff of the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony are planning to evaluate existing
programs related to health and wellness to determine the needs for new or more
services, and figure out how to design new programs or revamp existing ones.

Called the “RSIC Community Health Assessment,” a vital step in a five year project is to survey those living on the downtown Colony and in Hungry Valley about healthy lifestyle behaviors.

Such surveys are commonly used research tools which collect data. The survey will
pinpoint the characteristics, behaviors, or opinions of about 350 residents whom are 18-years-old or older.

The multiple choice survey is made up of 35 multiple choice questions centered on seven community health and wellness prevention areas.  Those areas include: commercial tobacco use, access to healthy food and beverages, promotion of healthy food and beverages, breastfeeding, physical activity, health literacy and team-based care.

“The assessment will provide a snapshot of the health status of our community,” Abel-Johnson said.  “We can use the assessment to build upon what is already known and improve individual community members understanding of our community health issues.”
CDC’s Response

In 2014, the National Center for Chronic Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) created the Good Health and Wellness in Indian Country (GHWIC) program.

Funded by the (CDC) and the Inter-Tribal Council of Arizona, the Community Health Assessment will include a written report which will outline the health and wellness needs
of the community.

GHWIC supports a coordinated, holistic approach to healthy living and chronic disease
prevention and reinforces the work already under way in Indian Country to make healthy choices and life ways easier for American Indians and Alaska Natives.

Why Surveys?
The surveys will be given out at different events and at information tables. For example, community members can complete the survey during commodities distribution at the RSIC Senior Center on the third Tuesday of the month, or Monday through Thursday
during the senior lunch program.  Head Start parents will be given the survey during parent meetings, while the Tribal Court Wellness Program will be a point of distribution, too.  Of course, the survey will be available at an information table at the RSTHC.

“In order to effectively identify, plan, and implement needed policy, systems and environmental changes, tribal communities need to assess the current policy landscape and monitor changes over time,” said Dr. Ursula E. Bauer, Director of the CDC. “As the CDC collaborates with tribal communities on the development and implications of policy, systems, and environmental change strategies, our important CHANGE Action Guide offers communities a valuable tool in our efforts to promote health and prevent disease.”

The RSIC Community Health Assessment Coalition has been using the Tribal Health Assessment Toolkit from ITCA and the CDC’s CHANGE Action Guide to carefully outline its plan not just to assess the community, but to determine how to use the results in the most effective manner.

“This really will be a revealing project which could yield vitally important and impactful information,” said RSIC Planner and coalition member Scott Nebesky.  “The baseline data that we collect along with the evaluation of current programing could profoundly change the services provided to the RSIC community.”

Nebesky, whose department is responsible for a routine demographic survey / census
of all community members, believes the Community Health Assessment methodology will be helpful for future planning, too.

Furthermore, the Community Health survey will reveal if additional resources are
needed to meet the needs of a certain segments of the patient care, e.g., diabetes prevention services or the availability of cardiovascular specialists, more pediatrics programs or geriatric care.

“We will know if what we are currently doing is effective, but if we need to do more of the same to assist greater numbers of the community,” Nebesky said.

The CDC recognizes that with over 560 American Indians and Alaska Natives tribes, indigenous people are extremely diverse, with unique cultures, languages, histories, arts, and rituals. Yet all tribes share a deep connection to life ways, usually connected to nature, which can sustain health and wellness and even though Native peoples’ traditional ways of life have been compromised by the United States Federal Government, now for nearly three hundred years, American Indians and Alaska Natives have persevered and preserved much of their cultures.

However, for decades, poorer health, inferior social outcomes, and shortened life expectancies are a reality for many tribes when compared to other racial and ethnic groups in the United States.

In response, the CDC has been working with tribes, villages, tribal organizations, and tribal epidemiology centers to promote health, prevent disease, reduce health disparities, and strengthen connections to culture and life ways that improve health and wellness.

Public Health Problem 
Across their lifespan, American Indians and Alaska Natives have higher rates
of disease, injury, and premature death than other racial and ethnic groups in the United States.

For example, American Indian and Alaska Native adults:
▪Have a higher prevalence
of obesity than their white
counterparts (34 percent vs. 23 percent for men and 36 percent vs. 21 percent for women).
▪Are twice as likely to have diagnosed diabetes (16 percent vs. 7 percent).
▪Are more likely to be current smokers (29.2 percent vs. 18.2 percent).

Rates of death due to stroke and heart disease are higher among American Indians and Alaska Natives than among members of other racial and ethnic groups. American Indian women are also nearly twice as likely as white women to die from cervical cancer.

Many Native populations are affected by poverty, unemployment, poor housing, and low education, among other issues. These historical afflictions are often associated with poor health behaviors and disease management, and they drive much of the excess burden
of diseases and premature death. Nonetheless, many chronic diseases can be
prevented or mitigated by culturally relevant, community-driven policies, systems, and environmental improvements that support healthy choices and behaviors.

The RSIC Community Health Assessment will determine where our leadership should focus its efforts.

The RSIC Community Health & Wellness Coalition is made up of staff from the health
center, planning, senior center, education, court services and public relations.

For more information, please contact Cordelia Abel-Johnson at (775)329-5162 or at .

Acclaimed Photographer Visits Colony

Matika Wilbur, an acclaimed portrait photographer and social documentarian, who has been featured in the New York Times, Slate, The Huffington Post, Indian Country Today and O Magazine recently visited the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony.

From the Swinomish and Tulalip Tribes of the Pacific Northwest, Wilbur is the founder of Project 562, a multi-year, national photo and video narrative with a mission to reveal contemporary Indian identity of every tribe in America.

“The time is upon us to change the way we see Native America,” Wilbur, a former teacher said. “The indigenous story is a story that honors and respects the original people of this land and it is something that we can all learn from and celebrate.”

The 2010 U.S. census shows approximately 5.2 million American Indians living in the United States and despite the cultural, economic, and political variety and progression of American Indians, misleading, stereotypical images dating back to the nineteenth and even eighteenth centuries still prevail at large in the media.

Project 562, the first undertaking of its kind, will dramatically change that.

In 2013, Wilbur, who studied at Rocky Mountain School of Photography in Montana and the Brooks Institute of Photography in California, sold everything in her Seattle apartment and hit the road. So far, she has visited 262 tribes, gathered hundreds of stories and taken thousands of pictures.

Matika Wilbur, an award winning photographer from the Swinomish and Tulalip tribes, is the founder of Project 562. Her mission is to visit every American Indian federally recognized reservation and capture contemporary images which truly reflect the beauty and strength of Indian Country.
Matika Wilbur, an award winning photographer from the Swinomish and Tulalip tribes, is the founder of Project 562. Her mission is to visit every American Indian federally recognized reservation and capture contemporary images which truly reflect Indian Country.

The entirety of the project will conclude in a publication, curriculum and exhibition at The Smithsonian, Metropolitan Museum of Art and Seattle Art Museum. Currently, Wilbur’s work is exhibited at her tribe’s Hibulb Cultural Center and this spring she has scheduled a show at Harvard University.

“I’ve been connected to the national Indian community since childhood,” Wilbur said, “but to meet people in their own ancestral homelands, to arrive and walk and sleep and join them where they have been for millennia is so deeply affecting and important in getting right what we are doing.”

Project 562 will take Wilbur to all 562 federally recognized tribes in America. In seeking these healing images and stories, for three years, Wilbur has driven more than a quarter million miles and received welcome from hundreds of sovereign North American indigenous tribes on their own lands.

These individual tribes, from Alaska to the Southwest, Louisiana to Maine, have offered her their unique creation stories as well as communal and personal narratives; methods of tribal “becoming” and teaching for youth; specific histories and reflections on their near genocide in “manifest destiny”; their legacies of survival through political and legal battles for sovereignty; sacred songs and ceremonies; and their up-to-the-moment struggles, achievements, and aspirations to maintain cultural legacies while co-existing as part of the United States.

The tribes have shared with Wilbur, the treasures and ravages of their ancestral territories, from the stunning beauty of the waters of Havasu to the rapacious “fracking” of Navajo country. Wilbur has realized in these encounters in a range of landscapes one of the most vital truths of her journey: Indian identity is inextricably linked to native lands.

She has witnessed the aggressive encroachment on Indian land for development and for water and other natural resources, countered by the tireless will of peoples threatened, or in some cases wholly displaced, to preserve or recover their ancestral environments.

Throughout this intense sojourn, Wilbur’s output as a fine arts photographer has produced the most extensive, exquisite visual portrayals of Native Americans ever conceived.

Her work is organizing the impressively multi-faceted, complex views and voices of the existing state of Indians, an unprecedented, tribally-collaborative “Native Americana”, accompanied by a brilliant and engaging travelogue via her blog, videos, and social media presence. please visit:

Matika Wilbur captures the right light and the correct angle as  the Eagle Wing Pageant Dancers perform at the Reno-Sparks Tribal Health Center.
Matika Wilbur captures the right light and the correct angle as the Eagle Wing Pageant Dancers perform at the Reno-Sparks Tribal Health Center.




Famous Mankillers Pop Into Language Class

Last night at the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony, the nationally famous Mankillers provided an impromptu performance at our weekly Paiute language class.

The Mankillers is a Native American drum group that performs traditional pow wow music in the northern tradition. Its all-woman membership hails from all parts of America, including the tribes of Apache, Shoshone, Cherokee, Sioux, Creek, Paiute, Choctaw, Seminole, and Yaqui.

The group formed in 1991. Some of its members came from a student drum organization at Humboldt State University, while others came from an Arcata, Calif., drum group.

Four members of the Mankillers—Michon Eben, Kristy Orona, Tina Rizzo and April Frank Lillyana–sang and drummed during Paiute language class at the RSIC. Organized by the RSIC Language & Culture Department, Pauite is taught on Thursdays at 6 p.m., in the 34 Conference Room. For more information about additional language classes or any of the program offers, phone the L&C office at (775) 785-1321. Photo by Judy Martin


Weekly, community members gather at the RSIC to learn Pauite from Pyamid Lake elder Ralph Burns. This class photo includes: Top Row L-R Lisa Tom , Brendon Able, Tina Rizzo, Michon Eben, Stacey Burns, Ralph Burns, Jennie Burns, Tsanavi Spoonhunter, Linda Spoonhunter , Denise Frank-Grosz, Stacey Montooth, Kristy Orona, Jason Lopez, and Emma Williams. Bottom row L-R, Hope Dressler, April Frank Lillyana, Remi Dunn, and Powma Lopez-Williams. Photo by Judy Martin

Community Input Sought for Probate, Wills Code

The Reno-Sparks Indian Colony tribal member and community are strongly encouraged to provide input, suggestions and comment regarding the  Probate and the Wills code. Comments will be accepted through Thursday, March 31.

Copies of the code were mailed to every RSIC household and the current drafts are available below.

An April community meeting at which the RSIC Senior Staff Attorney Ralph Simon will be available to review comments with Law and Order Committee, will be scheduled.

After the community meeting, the draft Codes will be reviewed by the Tribal Council and necessary revisions will be made.

There will be formal readings of the codes at two future Tribal Council meetings.

At the end of the second reading, the Tribal Council may act to adopt the codes.

The Tribal Council may determine after the second reading to revise the Codes further to incorporate input received at those readings, and then will consider adopting the Codes at a later meeting.

For more information for to provide input, please phone RSIC Senior Staff Attorney Ralph Simon at (775) 329-2936, or provide written comments in a sealed envelope to:
ATTN: Law and Order Committee
RSIC 34 Reservation Road
Reno, NV 89502

Click below to see printable drafts.

Probate Code Title VIII 2-10-2016 RS
WILLS CHAPTER 8 Draft Feb 10, 2016



Healthy Me Program Graduate Proudly Shares Success

They say word of mouth is the best form of advertising.  Talk with 16-year-old Jayda Cloughly, and she will sell you on the value of the Reno-Sparks Tribal Health Center’s Healthy Me Program.

Cloughly, a Paiute who attends Reno High, joined the Healthy Me Program in October and reduced her body fat by 5 percent.

“I love how the environment is and how every-single staff member is happy to have you and welcomes you as soon as you enter the door,” Cloughly said.  “…they push you hard, but once you are finished and start to see results you feel accomplished.”

The Healthy Me Program is collaboration between the Reno-Sparks Tribal Health Center’s medical department, the 3 Nations Wellness Center and the Diabetes Program. It has been designed for pediatric patients and their families.

Jayda Cloughly, 16-years-old, recently graduated from the Reno-Sparks Tribal Health Center’s Healthy Me Program.  Cloughly, successfully completed the three month program to get fit and learn healthy nutrition facts.  Cloughly reduced her body fat by 5 percent.
Jayda Cloughly successfully completed the RSTHC Healthy Me Program.

Currently, there are 28 youth enrolled in the Healthy Me Program and nine have successfully graduated.

Participants, including family members, learn the value and importance of proper nutrition and exercise. The program is incentive based, meaning that participants earn prizes throughout the 3-month-long sessions when he or she reaches various milestones.

For example, after earning 10 points, which requires 10 work out sessions or 10 one-on-one meetings with a licensed dietician or a combination of the two activities, participants are given a specially designed, limited-edition t-shirt.

More work outs and more nutrition sessions equals more points which means logoed backpacks and water bottles.  Even the parents of participants are rewarded with a prize after their child successfully completes six weeks of the Healthy Me Program.

“Jayda has an awesome support system with her mom and dad,” said Kristie Messerli, a RSTHC Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist who helped co-create the Healthy Me Program.

Another major component of the program is a weekly boot camp in which the youngsters work with a master trainer and Healthy Me co-creator Rick Pearson in the 3 Nations
Wellness Center.

The 45 minute work out every Thursday evening helps increase strength and agility.
Participants are encouraged to work out at least three times a week, including attending the somewhat structured, Healthy Me Bootcamp group class.

“My gym experience has been incredible,” said Cloughly. “In the beginning I was hesitant in going, but now that I have been doing it for a while and got to know all of the staff, I love coming and working out.”

In addition, Cloughly’s parents, mom and dad, tried the Healthy Me Boot Camp class which the RSTHC staff really encourages.

“I will admit, I skipped a few days and wasn’t really into it in the beginning but after I got used to it and made it a routine, I felt more and more ready to start every day,” Cloughly said. “At home, I have even began to watch my eating habits and I noticed when I worked out, I began to eat healthier and it has really made a good impact on diet and influenced what I put in my body.”

Moreover, Cloughly said that with her need knowledge on nutrition, she still enjoys chips and desserts, but she eats less and watches her intake more than before the program.

During the nutrition sessions, participants along with at least one parent, learn about portion control, the fundamentals of healthful eating, and the youth set personal fitness and food goals for themselves.

Last month, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded nearly $2 million for Special Diabetes Programs for Indians.  The RSTHC was a recipient of some of that funding which will be used for more projects like the Healthy Me Program.

Last week, Stacy Briscoe, the RSTHC Diabetes Program
Manager announced the reinstatement of water fitness, swimming lessons, and lap swim.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that nationwide, one of three children is overweight or obese, but throughout Indian County, the numbers are worse and that certainly is the situation at the RSIC.

At the tribal health center, 44 percent or 224 of its 511 youth patients (0-17-years), have been diagnosed as medically overweight or obese.  Being overweight often leads to a myriad of health issues, most notably diabetes and heart disease, but for adolescents, poor body image can be devastating.

“This is an absolute crisis,” said Stacy Briscoe, Diabetes Program Manager at the RSTHC.
“These numbers are stunning.”

Unfortunately, in addition to the need for behavioral changes like healthy eating and exercise, diabetes is often passed on in Native Americans families because of genetics.

Indian Health Service experts project that among Native Americans, one out
of every two children will develop diabetes.

However, at the RSIC, through efforts like the Healthy Me Program, focusing on a healthy diet and regular exercise, can prevent certain chronic diseases, including diabetes. While it can be an emotionally and physically difficult illness to live with and combat, severe diabetes often leads to nerve damage and even amputation, plus vision problems.

The staff at the RSTHC is committed to early intervention and slowing down what seems to be imminent on a lot of reservations.

“Families can’t change their inherited genes or family history, but they can change the family environment to encourage healthy eating habits and physical activity,” said Messerli.

With the Healthy Me Program and the majority of its efforts, the RSTHC uses several of its experts to fight obesity.  The staff uses a panel approach with a pediatrician, a dietitian, the gym trainer, and nurses to educate not just the child, but his or her entire family
on healthy nutrition and positive activity habits.

Young people, 13-years and older, can use the 3 Nations Wellness Center gym during regular operating hours, 8 a.m.– 8 p.m., Monday – Thursday and 8 a.m. – 6 p.m., on Fridays.

“The best feeling also, is when you start to feel results and see them as well, you feel more confident,” Cloughly said. “My family and I have noticed that when I come home from the gym, I am happy and cheerful.”

Messerli said the change in Cloughly was obvious.

“She has an increased self-esteem and Jayda has built a habit of exercising after school and monitoring what and how much she is eating, Messerli said. “Jayda’s progress is

To date, Cloughly has lost 15 pounds, plus 5 percent of her body fat.

“I am proud of myself through this whole journey,” Cloughly said.

For more information or to join any of the programs offered through the RSTHC
to combat being overweight, obese or any of the ailments associated with these illnesses, please contact, Messerli, Briscoe or any of the staff at the RSTHC at 329-5162.

Historic Milestone Marked by Celebration of 80 Years of Sovereignty

On January 15, 1931 the United States Secretary of the Interior, Harold L. Ickes,
approved a constitution and by-laws which recognized the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony as a sovereign nation.  Eighty years later on that same date, over 300 people associated with the Colony recognized that significant historic milestone.

“It was really a great day,” said Trisha Calabaza, the RSIC’s Archives Photograph Manager who spearheaded the day-long event.  “We had a good turnout with a lot of positive feedback.”

The celebration took place in the multipurpose room at the RSIC Administration building.
It included before and after photos and maps of the tribal lands, a pictorial timeline of the Colony’s history, a photo display of the RSIC’s leadership through the last 80-years, a video created in the early 70’s which highlighted youth and focused on the day-to-day life at the reservation.

Chelsea O’Daye, a member and an employee of the Reno-Sparks Indian carefully reviews the pictorial timeline for the Colony’s last 80-years. Over 300 people participated in the RSIC’s 80-Years of Sovereignty on Jan. 15, 2016.
Chelsea O’Daye, a member and an employee of the Reno-Sparks Indian carefully reviews the pictorial timeline for the Colony’s last 80 years. Over 300 people participated in the RSIC’s 80-Years of Sovereignty on Jan. 15, 2016.

RSIC Chairman Arlan D. Melendez addressed a crowd and read an official proclamation for Celebrating 80 Years of Sovereignty before Janice Gardipe, tribal elder, educator and activist, provided a blessing and a traditional song.

Besides enjoying refreshments, attendees had an opportunity to leave his or her mark on the day.

With the United States Civil Rights Commission’s definition of sovereignty prominently
displayed, participants were invited to share what sovereignty means to him or her.

According to the civil rights commission, sovereignty refers to “…tribes’ right
to govern themselves, define their own membership, manage tribal property, and regulate tribal business and domestic relations; it further recognizes the existence of a government-to-government relationship between such tribes and the federal government.”

With that definition as a starting point, participants wrote their interpretation of sovereignty on decorative paper and  displayed their ideas.

Most of the contributions, mirrored the formal definition.  For example one person wrote, “To me sovereignty means the right to govern yourself and right to choose the direction of your people,” and another wrote: “We are a Nation within a Nation (U.S.) with our own government: court, police for our people.

Still other contributions were much simpler and much more sentimental, like “To me
sovereignty means a celebration of our choosing,” and another wrote: “Love
for our people.”

So, while the celebration included looking back at admired leaders and
remembering struggles of the past, the day proved to be a time to look ahead, too.

“This is just the beginning,” remarked one community member.

Another participant said that every day we make decisions which decide the direction
of our people.

“We have to plan for future generations,” she added.

And as any effective learning environment does, the celebration included
constructive feedback as well.

“Even though we are a sovereign nation, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) supersedes us,” remarked one community member.  “So in a way, we are still under someone’s law.”

Another tribal member lamented that being part of a sovereign nation while also
being a United States citizen can limit his civil rights.

“Our declaration of a sovereign nation cuts out my right as a U.S. citizen,” he felt.
Esnala Kaye, a member of the planning committee who oversaw this interactive portion of the program said that she was surprised by the discussion the exercise of defining sovereignty generated.

“A lot of people were very emotional when I asked them what sovereignty meant to them,” Kaye said.  “I wasn’t expecting that, but really it was good because we saw a different point of view.”

Kaye explained for some Native Americans who don’t have essential services and are not federally recognized, thinking about others exercising sovereignty might be painful.

“After I talked to one lady and even discussed the subject with my family, it hit me how fortunate the RSIC people really are,” Kaye said.

That same sentiment was conveyed when Chairman Melendez read his proclamation.
“Though much has change in these past 80-years, the resolve of the Numa, the Newe and the Washeshu has not,” Chairman Melendez said. “From our early origins of government, to our 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 ancestors.”

On Jan. 15, 1931, the United State federal government approved the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony's constitution and by-laws making the RSIC a sovereign nation.
On Jan. 15, 1931, the United State federal government approved the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony’s constitution and by-laws making the RSIC a sovereign nation.


After-School Program Uses Technology to Learn Math Facts

Jayden Peters does not ever want to leave after school tutoring.

“It is time to go and everyone is waiting,” says Reno-Sparks Indian Colony Tutor Lynette Sam.

Peters, a fourth grader at Hidden Valley Elementary will tell you that he is good in math, but doing his math facts on an e-carrot tablet, is making him late to get home.

“No, no, I don’t want to go,” Peters says. “I want to play more.”

This handheld, colorful electronic device has added a new dimension to the RSIC’s Education Program.

Thanks to a concerned parent-turned entrepreneur, Peters along with all the youth attending the RSIC after-school program are learning.

According to the founder and chief executive officer of e-Carrot, Patrick Grimes, his goal was to create a fun learning method to motivate students that when successfully completed, ends with a reward.

After-school students learn math facts using e-Carrot tablets.
The Reno-Sparks Indian Colony’s After-School Program has been using e-Carrot tablets to teach math facts to its students.

“Basically, we are using technology to build knowledge,” Grimes said.

Interestingly, e-Carrot was born out of a family problem.

As a junior in high school, one of the Grimes children abruptly encountered difficulty in math.  After several parent teacher conferences and involving the school counselor, it was
discovered that the student was spending her class time, text messaging her friends.

In fact, the teacher allowed students to use any type of electronic device in class, as long as they did not disrupt the teacher or other classmates.

So, understandably, Grime’s 16-year-old picked texting rather than listening to math lectures.

Thanks to their parental control, the Grimes modified their teenager’s phone, so that before she could send a text message, she had to successfully complete a
digital math flash card.

Thus, e-Carrot was born.

The name of the company, e-Carrot signifies the process of chasing a goal and getting the reward, e.g., running after a carrot, plus, carrots are good for your vision.  Good vision, physically and literally, is good for a healthy, happy life.

So, with help from another member of the family, Cody, the Grimes successfully created a program or an app which motivates younger students–kindergarten through sixth grade, to work on math facts.

Once the student learns all the facts and eventually commits them to memory and can recall the information in a timely manner, the students are allowed to play video games.

For Peters that is plenty of incentive.

“Jelly Fish is my favorite game,” Peters said.”

Currently, both the downtown Colony and the Hungry Valley students in the after-school
program have access to the e-Carrot tablets.

And though the verdict on exactly how much learning is happening on the reservation,
is still out, e-Carrot has some significant results with other learners.

At a Title I elementary school in Sun Valley, fifth graders have had double digit improvement in 30 days.  As a class, the group improved 9 percent when doing 100 math problems in three minutes.

In a way, we are kind of tricking our students,” said Tanya Hernandez, an RSIC Education Advisor said.  “They do not realize yet, but they are learning.”

In order to convince educators that the e-Carrot system works, Grimes adopted the state of Nevada’s standards, so he has a handle on the students’ knowledge before they start working with the e-Carrot system.

All students take a pre-test before students are allowed to begin working on their
e-tablets. This gauges exactly how much they already know, and then, how much they learn.

Furthermore, results for one student or even a small sub-group, e.g., the Native American students, can be detailed, so that future work on the e-tablet can be customized to better prepare that student.

Grimes said that research confirms that several aspects of a person’s long-term
wellbeing — including socioeconomic status and overall physical health are linked to his/her grasp of basic math facts.

He has worked with experts from Stanford University to understand how children learn and how the brain operates when memorizing math facts.

“We are very interested in helping an underserved population, like Native Americans,” Grimes said.

Besides the school in Sun Valley, e-Carrot has been launched in area Blue Ribbon Schools — public and private, an orphanage in India, three Truckee Meadows Boys and Girls Clubs, a STEM academy and even a Christian middle school in Carson City, Nev.

Grimes said that ultimately, he would like to build the program at the RSIC so that students can be assigned an e-tablet which can be taken home.

“You don’t need the internet to study your math facts or to take advantage of your reward,” Grimes explained.

Two New Council Members, Three Incumbents Sworn-In

Highlighted by the pending 80th anniversary of the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony, two new Tribal Council members, two returning Tribal Council members, and the returning Tribal Council Chairman were sworn in on Dec. 9.

“Tonight, even before we continue forward, we must look back to the past to see if we are still fulfilling the mandate and vision of our past leaders,” said Chairman Arlan D. Melendez, who took an oath of office for his 29th consecutive year serving on the Colony Council.

“Our first Tribal Council—Cleveland Cypher Sr., Thomas Ochio, George Houten, Willie Tondy, Jack Mahone, George McGinnis, and Chairman Harry Sampson, gave us a vision and a continuing mandate.”

As per that mandate and the RSIC’s nearly 80-year-old constitution, Daryl “Doug” Gardipe and Shawna Kirsten took an oath of office and joined the tribal council, while Jacqueline Quoetone and Ruth Sampson Guerrero were re-sworn in for another four-year term.  Melendez began his 9th term and 25th year as Tribal Chairman of the Colony.

RSIC Tribal Chief Judge, Joseph J. Van Walraven administered the oath of office to the group.

Jacqueline Quoetone, Ruth Sampson Guerrero, Arlan D. Melendez, Daryl “Doug” Gardipe, and Shawna Kirsten recently took an oath of office as leaders of the 41st Reno-Sparks Indian Colony Tribal Council. RSIC Tribal Judge Joseph J. Van Walraven swore the leadership into office.
Jacqueline Quoetone, Ruth Sampson Guerrero, Arlan D. Melendez, Daryl “Doug” Gardipe, and Shawna Kirsten recently took an oath of office as leaders of the 41st Reno-Sparks Indian Colony Tribal Council. RSIC Tribal Judge Joseph J. Van Walraven swore the leadership into office.


In 1935, Colony residents voted to accept the Indian Reorganization Act (IRA)
of 1934 by a vote of 53-5.  The IRA gave the RSIC the right and the authority to organize for a common welfare, to adopt a constitution and by-laws, to form businesses and other sub-organizations and granted the Tribe certain rights of home rule.

“The major goal of the Indian Reorganization Act was to reverse the goal of assimilation of Indians into American society and encourage tribes to continue their traditions and culture,” Chairman Melendez said. “The act also restored to Indians, the management
of their assets, primarily land and mineral rights and included provisions intended to create economic development on reservations.”

According to Chairman Melendez, the IRA also authorized the United States  Secretary of the Interior to acquire land and water rights, and to create new reservations.

Furthermore, the act encouraged tribes to implement written constitutions and
charters for the purpose of giving tribes the freedom to self-govern.

It also authorized funds in a revolving credit account for tribal land purchases,   educational assistance and aiding the organization of tribal governments.

The RSIC submitted a draft constitution to the Carson City Indian Agency in September
of 1935.

The constitution and by-laws were ratified by eligible Colony voters on Dec. 16 of that same year.

It was approved by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior, Harold Ickes on Jan. 15, 1936.

The evening marked the conclusion of the service for council members Darrell Bill and Judith Miller.  Both Bill and Miller gave heart-felt farewell speeches thanking their family and acknowledging the privilege of serving as a council member.

About 80 people attended the ceremony.

“As we embark on our 81st year as a federally recognized tribal government, we must protect our sovereignty and not ever forget the vision and mandate that has been set before us,” Chairman Melendez said. “We must work together in unity and
respect for one another.”

41st RSIC Tribal Council Photo


Daughters of the American Revolution Aim to Fulfill Theme Working With RSIC

Though the holidays have concluded, the Daughter of the American Revolution (DAR) are still giving and the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony is on the receiving end.

“We want to do more than just donate,” said Janet Copeland Gould, the Nevada Sagebrush Chapter Regent and the State Recording Secretary for the DAR. “What we are doing honors our heritage, focuses on our future and celebrates America.”

The DAR which just turned 125-years-old, is putting those founding principles into action this Thursday, when about a half dozen of its members stocked and organized a storage room within the Colony’s Human Services office space at 405 Golden Lane.

This area or resource room will include emergency supplies from diapers, to hygiene kits, essential clothing, to school supplies and more.

“This partnership is about building a relationship outside our community to help within our community,” said Adriana Botello, the manager of the RSIC’s Human Services Department. “Because of the DAR’s generosity and hard work, we will be able to help our community members immediately—in the moment with discretion and dignity.”

This unlikely partnership started last March when the DAR felt their efforts to positively impact the Native American community would be better served locally. This national, non-profit, non-political volunteer women’s service organization had supported its national leadership’s commitment to education, but the closest school the DAR Nevada Sagebrush Chapter could assist was in Salem, Oregon.

This despite the fact, that most of the DAR’s volunteer work is accomplished by the grassroots efforts of local level chapters.

“We drove 10 hours, hauling a trailer to Oregon, and unloaded all the items from the (Chemawa Indian) School’s request list and when we finished, one of our members suggested we consider finding a local Indian group to assist,” Copeland Gould said. “Our group is breaking protocol by partnering with Native Americans locally rather than participating in the routine donations for schools approved by our national leaders.”

In addition to emergency supplies, Botello explained that the DAR is helping to provide gently used professional clothing in case a member of the RSIC community has a job interview, but not the needed attire.

“First, we sat down and determined what the needs of the RSIC are, and we learned that finding employment for their people is a priority,” Copeland Gould said. “After that, we said, ‘here is what the DAR can do to help.’”

Copeland Gould explained that she has volunteers who will help RSIC community members with job interview skills, creating resumes and completing job applications. She has even made arrangements for free haircuts at Salon 215 South for those RSIC community members who seek out help with their job search.

“This partnership meets our organization’s goals on several levels,” Copeland Gould said. “We are celebrating America by helping our country’s first Americans.”

According to the National Endowment of the Humanities, during the American Revolutionary War, Native Americans had to survive among competing European powers. In the 1780s, Native Americans faced a “New World” and had to choose between staying neutral, siding with the British, or joining the revolutionary cause.

Furthermore, American Indians were trying to hold on to their aboriginal homelands; however some tribes joined the British, while others fought with the American Colonists.

“Despite our respective complex histories, this isn’t about dependence and it is not an entitlement program,” Botello said. “Everyone needs a boost at some time and thanks to the DAR, our community will benefit.”