Category Archives: Headlines

Tribal Member Opens Alluring Beauty

For years, Johni Bill has wanted to help people with an issue she encountered as a teen—skin health. Now, as the owner/operator of Alluring Beauty, Bill is not just providing aesthetician services, but she is a role model for other budding entrepreneurs.

“I’m still learning, but I am really excited,” Bill said. “Becoming a business owner is a big step for me.”

Her business, located at 1962 Pyramid Hwy, in a shared space with the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony’s Smoke Shop V, focuses on waxing, tinting and eyelash extensions and Bill plans to offer facials soon.

Since high school when Bill herself dealt with problem skin, she has explored the field of cosmetology and has had an interest in being a hair and makeup artist.

It was this ambition which led her to a Jan. 30 grand opening of her open salon.

“Johni had a vision and has stepped forward to be one of our small business pioneers,” Chairman Arlan D. Melendez told the crowd of about 20 which gathered for the celebration. “When you really think about self-determination, a term that we talk about a lot in Indian Country, Johni is showing us a real example.”

Bill said that she does feel a little pressure, but she is excited to show other people that operating a business is a worthy, attainable goal for anyone at the RSIC willing to work hard.

“There are a lot of laws and rules, and that is a good thing,” Bill said. “Creating a business plan and a safety manual took a lot.”

According to Steve Moran, the director of the RSIC Economic Development and Business Enterprises Department, one of the goals of the RSIC Tribal Council is to offer more help to tribal members who want to go into business for him/herself.

In addition to providing information about local resources which can help an entrepreneur secure funding, write a business plan, file for a business license, and the like, the Colony has partnered with other agencies to hold workshops to assist small business owners.

In the case of Alluring Beauty, the RSIC’s operation of a business incubator—retail space for multiple users-—allows the tribe to offer low start up costs to help Bill get her business started.

Chairman Melendez said that because Bill has the tenacity to be independent and not totally dependent on the tribe, she is fulfilling an important role for the entire community.

“We recognize that we need more small businesses,” Melendez said. “That will take leaders in our community and we congratulate and thank Johni for taking on that responsibility.”

Alluring Beauty is open Tuesday-Sunday from 10 a.m., until 7 p.m. Bill can be reached at 775/722-4880.

Reno-Sparks Indian Colony Tribal member Johni Bill celebrated the grand opening of her new business located at 1962 Pyramid Hwy, Suite B, next to Smoke Shop V. Specializing in aesthetician services like waxing, tinting and eyelash extensions, call 722-4880 for an appointment.


Reno-Sparks Indian Colony Gives Nearly $500,000 to Washoe Schools

The Reno-Sparks Indian Colony (RSIC) commemorated its first revenue sharing payment to the Washoe County School District with a ceremonial “big check” handover today at the Colony’s health center.

“We are proud to publicly reinforce our commitment to educating all Washoe County school children,” said Arlan D. Melendez, Chairman of the RSIC. “Our leadership is committed to the academic advancement of not just our Native American students, but to all area youth.”

This nearly half-a-million-dollar contribution is the final step in a 15-year-project between Washoe County, the State of Nevada and the RSIC.

“This collaboration was designed to benefit all parties, most importantly our children,” Chairman Melendez said. “Thanks to the success of our retail operations with our increased tax revenue, the entire region is enjoying new community amenities, increased urban development, private partnerships and of course, revenue sharing for education.”

In accordance with Assembly Bill 299 which unanimously passed the Nevada Legislature in 2005, the RSIC proposed to share sales tax revenue from its retail project near Highway 395 and East Second Street to benefit the Washoe County School District. Using tribal tax revenues and a 1995 tribal municipal bond, the Colony purchased multiple properties and amassed 22-acres just east of its downtown land base. However, because the properties had been the site of several industrial businesses, the RSIC partnered with the Environmental Protection Agency and the Nevada Division of Environment Protection, to remove soil contaminated with pesticides, petroleum hydrocarbons, metals, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), lead, and nitrogen.

After the environmental cleanup, the RSIC worked with the Washoe County Flood Control Project, the Washoe County Public Works Department, the Nevada Departments of State Lands, the Army Corps of Engineers, and Wal-Mart to construct a quarter-mile floodwall and levee along the south bank of the Truckee River between 1-580 and the Glendale bridge.

Furthermore, the Colony also worked with the Nevada Division of Public Works to design and construct a state-of-the art facility for the Department of Corrections. Upon completion, the Colony and the State Lands swapped the former Northern Nevada Restitution Center (2595 E. 2nd St.) and the site of the new facility (225 Sunshine Ln.).

This dynamic, multifaceted public-private collaboration sprung from a need to expand health services to the RSIC’s 1,143 tribal members as well as the Northern Nevada Urban Indian population.  Besides diversifying the Colony’s tax base from sole reliance on tobacco sales, the RSIC retail operations accounted for the construction of a $20 million health center.

In fact, last July, the RSIC celebrated its seventh year of operation of the Reno-Sparks Tribal Health Center, a direct result of this multi-agency collaboration. The 65,000 square-foot health center not only provides medical care for the RSIC tribal members, but for an additional 6,000 Northern Nevada Urban Indians.


Access to National Crime Database Coming to RSIC

Eleven Native American tribes, including the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony, are getting access to national crime information databases already used by local, state and federal law enforcement agencies.

“The RSIC will benefit enormously from the program,” said Edward Reina, RSIC Tribal Administrator. “Indian Country law enforcement has struggled for decades, to gain access to and have the ability to enter criminal justice information into a national data base, a practice enjoyed by every non-Tribal law enforcement agency in the United States.”

The Tribal Access Program for National Crime Information or TAP, will provided a state- of-the-art biometric/biographic computer workstation to the RSIC that will allow tribal police to process finger and palm prints, take mugshots and submit records to national databases.

Furthermore, the RSIC will also be able to access the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Service systems for criminal and civil purposes.

In addition, TAP will provide specialized training and assistance to RSIC staff.

“Not only is TAPS helpful from law enforcements ability to enter criminally linked information, but also our human services, housing, education, and human resources will be able to make criminal history inquiries,” Reina said.

Throughout Indian Country, criminal background checks for potential employees, volunteers as well as people of interest takes weeks and often months to receive.

With TAP, reports will take minutes or a few hours to retrieve. This will expedite the processing of emergency foster care placements, volunteers that work with children, applicants for housing, and the like.

Each of these capabilities enhances protection of children and families, and adds an important resource for law enforcement.

“Central to this program is our ability to share information between law enforcement agencies throughout Indian Country,” Reina said. “This is particularly critical in this era when information sharing has neglected the importance of Indian Country’s criminal intelligence information.”

TAP is a shortcut as it allows tribes to bypass state and local agencies and go directly into federal databases according to Alfred Urbina, the attorney general for the Pascua Yaqui Nation.
The Pascua Yaqui Nation was one of the first tribes to participate in the program.

“There has always been a gap on information sharing with Indian Country law enforcement and other agencies,” said Edward Reina, who is also a retired police chief. “This (gap) was highlighted in our application to the DOJ as we have the unique geographic location of the RSIC, which is the urban (Reno) and rural (Hungry Valley) settings.”

According to Reina, because the RSIC has two land bases, law enforcement requires a unique approach to sharing information.

Furthermore, Reina said that the RSIC’s application for TAP also emphasized our community’s interaction with the larger metropolitan area because of the Colony’s business enterprises.

“Only eleven agencies were selected to participate in the program,” Reina said, “so we are fortunate to be chosen.” TAP enhances tribal efforts to register sex offenders pursuant to the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA); to have orders of protection enforced off-reservation; to protect children; to keep firearms away from persons who are disqualified from receiving them; to improve the safety of public housing, and to allow tribes to enter their arrests and convictions into national databases.

TAP supports tribes in analyzing their needs for national crime information and includes appropriate solutions. TAP, which is managed by the DOJ Chief Information Officer, provides specialized training and assistance for participating tribes, including computer-based training and on-site instruction, as well as a 24/7 help desk.

“Since its launch in 2015, this project has not only helped law enforcement locate suspects, rescue victims and extradite captured fugitives, but it’s also made it easier for civil courts to enter and enforce orders of protection for domestic violence victims,” said Deputy Attorney General Sally Q. Yates.  “I’m proud that our Justice Department is continuing to act as a responsible partner with tribal governments in this landmark effort, which strengthens both sovereignty and safety for American Indian people.”

This access is vital as Native American women face the highest rates of violence and sexual assault in the United States, but orders of protection, restraining orders courts can issue to protect victims of domestic abuse or harassment, are unenforceable. “If law enforcement officials on and off the reservation can’t confirm restraining orders exist in other jurisdictions, legally, nothing can be done,” said Alfred Urbina, the attorney general for the Pascua Yaqui Tribe of Arizona,  one of the first tribes to participate in the program.

In the fall of 2015, the department selected a dozen tribes to participate in the initial user feedback phase of TAP.  This partnership focused on testing the department’s technology solution and training support and it also enabled tribes to identify and share best practices regarding the use of national crime information databases   to strengthen public safety.

Phase two of TAP will grant access to national crime information databases and technical support to the RSIC as well as the following tribes:   Metlakatla Indian Community, Annette Island Reserve, Alaska; Navajo Nation in Arizona, New Mexico & Utah; Pueblo of Laguna of New Mexico; Yurok Tribe of California; the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe of North & South Dakota; the Tohono O’odham Nation of Arizona; Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate of the Lake Traverse Reservation in South Dakota; Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes of the Fort Peck Indian Reservation in Montana; the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians in Wisconsin; and the Makah Indian Tribe of Washington state.

The Office of Justice Programs’ Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering and Tracking (SMART), and Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) funded the second phase of tap as each provided $1 million in prior fiscal year funding towards the expansion, which will be used for the 11 kiosks. The Department of Justice Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) provided technical assistance.

“TAP enhances protection of our children and families, and adds an important resource for law enforcement,” Reina said. “As the RSIC is one of the first Indian country law enforcement agencies to begin an era of information sharing with our partners outside of Indian Country, this program recognizes that Indian Country law enforcement is integral to the protection of, our community, the State of Nevada and the United States. ”

For more information on TAP, visit

For more information about the DOJ, tribal justice and public safety issues, visit:

For more information about the Department of the Interior Bureau of Indian Affairs, visit

Editor’s Note: Information for this story was provided by the United States Department of Justice Public Affairs.







Spirit of Holiday Giving Sweeps Community

If the old adage “It’s better to give than receive,” is correct, the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony might be one of the best places to be this holiday season.

“I’ve been overwhelmed by the generosity of our community,” said Michelle Leon. “When everyone is so willing to pitch in and make others happy, it’s a win-win for all of us.”

Leon’s summation is not only accurate, but rooted in scientific fact.

According to a recent study by psychologists at the University of British Columbia, human beings are all happier, especially young children—when we give rather than receive.

Author Lara Aknin, a professor of psychology at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, British Columbia, has found that the joy of helping others is an inherent part of human nature.

“Positive social behavior, include giving time volunteering, giving money to causes or giving gifts and other resources, all correlate to happiness,” Aknin said.

Leon, a certified health educator at the Reno-Sparks Tribal Health Center, is the co-organizer of the RSIC’s gift giving program, Angels for Elders.

Leon and her health center co-worker, Lynn Rodriquez, a patient transporter, came up with the idea to brighten the holidays for elders with Christmas gifts.

“Because of my job, I get to know some of our elders pretty well, and sometimes they confide in me that they might struggle sometimes,” Rodriquez said. “A lot of our elders live on fixed incomes and many don’t have family, so I thought we should do something about that.”

Leon and Rodriquez quickly identified 48 elders who wanted to be part of Angels for Elders.

Those participants provided a wish list of three gift ideas he or she wanted, and even quicker, the RSIC community responded positively.

“Immediately, we had a lot   of staff members at the health center that wanted to give presents to our elders,” Leon said. “When word got out to employees outside the health center, we were easily able to match elders and gift givers.”

However, the actual act of giving out the gifts will be doubly rewarding for Leon and Rodriquez who will personally deliver the presents before Christmas.

“That will definitely be one of the highlights,” Leon said. “We are really looking forward to fulfilling the wishes of our elders.”

Michael Ondelacy, the assistant director of business enterprises and economic development, said he had already caught the Christmas spirit, but when he heard about the opportunity to make the holidays better for RSIC elders, he jumped at the opportunity.

“This was really fun,” Ondelacy said. “It feels good to help, especially since my elder asked for such practical gifts—a sweater, gloves, and the like.”

Leon and Rodriquez confirmed that none of the gift requests from the elders were extravagant.

“Everyone wants usable, everyday-type items,”


Broad smiles, squeals of glee, and the look of wonderment are common during the holidays and the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony Human Services Department is out to ensure that every child has a Merry Christmas.

To that end, Adriana Botello and her staff once again teamed up with the Marines Toys For Tots Foundation to distribute brand new toys to children throughout the Colony and in Hungry Valley.

“We want to make sure every child receives a toy for Christmas,” Botello said. “Partnering with Toys for Tots coordinator Ken Santore and his volunteers is one of our highlights of our year.”

According to Santore, since 1947 Marines have been making Christmas wishes come true for children. Last year, Reno Toys For Tots raised and locally distributed over 86,600 toys for children.

Santore emphasized that all the toys collected by Reno Toys for Tots stay within Washoe County.

He said that his local team works very hard to make Toys for Tots a success, but without the help of concerned citizens and business leaders, the program wouldn’t be successful.

One of those businesses is Toys”R”Us.

Toys”R”Us is proud to work with the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves, a premier community action program, to bring joy to less fortunate children across the country every holiday season. As the largest retail partner in the history of Toys for Tots, Toys”R”Us, has raised nearly $48 million and collected 4 million toys since 2004 thanks to its generous customers.

“Certainly, we need the resources of Toys “R” Us, without the toys, we wouldn’t have this opportunity, plus, we also want to thank our RSIC Tribal Police Department for assisting in the home delivery of toys,” Botello said.  “We are appreciative to Chief Daryl Bill and his officers for making a difference in our community.”

Botello was also quick to acknowledge to the RSIC Tribal Court and the Reno-Sparks Tribal Health Center for their involvement.

“Our point of contact at the health center was Lawana Martinez who organized a food drive and collected toys, too,” Botello said.

She added that because of these RSIC departments efforts, in addition to providing gifts for the children, many of these needy households received food donations. Botello said that the tribal courts made goody bags for the children as well.

Furthermore, in addition to the human services and the police department, other staff members from tribal court, the Chairman’s office and the tribal administrator’s office, joined in the giving by wrapping over 150 gifts generously donated by Toys”R”Us.

“Certainly, our goal was on giving our needy children a brighter Christmas, but giving to others feels so good and helping children allows you to have that great feeling of putting others first.

Botello said it was an honor that the children allowed adults to enjoy their happiness.

“There is no greater reward and it is such humbling work,” Botello said. “It is an absolute privilege to be part of such a great community.”






RSIC Planner Named Contributor / Supporter of the Year

The Nevada Indian Commission has announced its 2016 American Indian Achievement Award winners and the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony’s Scott Nebesky is among the honorees.

Nebesky, who has worked for the RSIC for 16 years, spearheaded the American Indians’ interest in the Nevada Native Nations Lands Act. The bill, which was signed into law by President Barack Obama last month, transferred more than 71,000 acres of aboriginal territorial lands back to six Nevada Tribes.

Nebesky facilitated and presented to city, county and state governments, neighborhood and citizen advisory boards, recreational groups and political organizations, and outlined the needs and strategy not just for the RSIC, but for the Duckwater Shoshone Tribe, the Duck Valley Shoshone-Paiute Tribe, the Ft. McDermitt Shoshone-Paiute Tribe, the Summit Lake Paiute Tribe and the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe.


Reno-Sparks Indian Colony Planner Scott Nebesky was named the Nevada Indian Commission’s 2016 Contributor of the Year for his work on the Nevada Native Nations Land Act.

Other awardees for the year include:

American Indian Community Leader of the Year:
Ralph Burns, Jimmie James and Johnny Williams, Jr.

American Indian Youth Services/Role Model of the Year:
Patricia Williams Hicks

American Indian Youth Ambassador of the Year:
Sierra Reel

The American Indian Community Leader of the Year has been awarded to Ralph Burns, Robert James, and Johnnie Williams These three veterans of the United States Armed Forces recently successfully sued the Nevada Secretary of State and Washoe and Mineral counties under the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Members of the Pyramid Lake Paiute and the Walker River Paiute tribes, these respected elders asserted that under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution, their civil rights have been violated for decades.

As the plaintiffs in the case Sanchez vs. Cegavske these Native warriors asked that Washoe and Mineral counties install and operate early in-person voting for their tribal communities as well as Election Day in-person voting on the Pyramid Lake reservation.

Furthermore, thanks to their litigation, Burns, James, and Williams have laid the foundation for another 1.7 million American Indian people to finally enjoy this essential right. Because this legal decision took place in the Ninth Circuit of Appeals, this powerful injunction will reverberate in the states of Alaska, Arizona, California, Washington, Idaho, Hawaii, Montana and Oregon, home to 172 federally recognized tribes.

Hicks spoke Shoshone and Paiute growing up in Hawthorne and moving to Schurz as a teen. She was a legal secretary for the Nevada attorney general, and as tribal chairman of the Walker River Paiute Tribe worked hard to preserve American Indian life. She has spent her life teaching traditional Paiute songs and dances to tribal youth.

Reel is from the Moapa Band of the Paiute Tribe in Southern Nevada. She continues Paiute traditions, language and dance. She has served nationally as an activist on American Indian issues and causes, including protecting the traditional homeland of Gold Butte.

The event helps raise funds to support establishing a cultural center at the former Stewart Indian School, according to Sherry Rupert, the longest serving executive director of the commission.

The Nevada Indian Commission selected the 2016 award recipients. The group’s mission is to ensure the well-being of Nevada’s American Indians, through development and enhancement of the government to government relationship between the State of Nevada and Indian tribes, and through education for a greater cultural understanding of the state’s first citizens.

Former Governor Grant Sawyer and Assemblyman Ernie Johnson introduced legislation to create the Nevada Indian Commission in 1965, and the 12 executive directors and many commissioners along the way were instrumental in building the foundation of the organization.


U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Meets With Native Leaders

With orders from President Barack Obama to go on a fact-finding trip, last month, Tom Vilsack, the United States Secretary of Agriculture, met with several American Indian leaders for their insight about the fight in Indian Country against drug addiction.

“There is not a clear connection between agriculture and opioid abuse,” said Arlan D. Melendez, one of the 11 tribal leaders asked to join Vilsack during his trip to Nevada.  “But it is clear, Secretary Vilsack wants to find creative ways to help Indian Country with its infrastructure and with funding for programs that will stop drug addiction.”

According to Secretary Vilsack his office primarily provides leadership on food, agriculture, natural resources, rural development, nutrition, and related issues using the best available science, and effective management.

However, since Secretary Vilsack also serves as the chair of the White House Rural Council and because he knows first-hand the chaos drug addiction can cause, Secretary Vilsack is an ideal person to lead the president’s nationwide initiative to fight opioid addiction.

Secretary Vilsack explained to the tribal leaders and another 25 people in the audience at the Reno-Sparks Tribal Health Center, that the Department of Agriculture can assist with the construction of buildings which can be used as treatment facilities, recovery centers, and transitional housing.

The former governor of Iowa, Secretary Vilsack added that the USDA also has special
programs to help tribes and other rural communities to build the physical structures needed for internet access.

Secretary Vilsack emphasized that a lot of tribes, especially those in remote areas, are looking to use the internet to connect physicians and patients.

Telemedicine, which requires a satellite or a computer, is the practice of medicine when the doctor and patient are in different locations, sometimes thousands of miles apart, using two-way voice and visual communication.  Secretary Vilsack says that telemedicine could include treatment for patients fighting addictions.

Nevada is the fourth state Vilsack has visited since May in which he has brought
together community stake-holders to address the opioid crisis.

After his roundtable discussion at the RSTHC which included area tribal chairman, Indian health care experts, addiction and recovery professionals as well as interested RSTHC staff, Secretary Vilsack and Chairman Melendez held a press conference.

While speaking to the press, Secretary Vilsack outlined four areas of focus:  prevention, treatment, criminal justice reform and economic development. “We need to give our people fighting addiction a transition,” says Secretary Vilsack, “A way of getting strong, of building resistance, if you will.”

The President’s budget is calling for more than 1.1 billion dollars to support states, like Nevada, fighting opioid abuse. Vilsack says already a $94 million grant will help build or expand 271 treatment facilities across the nation. That’s on top of millions more to help make drugs treating overdose more available.

Vilsack also called for more transitional housing and drug courts to get people long term treatment other than prison.

Finally, economic development, he says will provide hope for the people, which RSIC
Tribal Chairman Arlan Melendez agrees.

“Creating jobs and small business development—,” Chairman Melendez said, “those type of things will give people the sense of empowerment, so that they can take their rightful place in Native American communities.”

During the round table, several of the Native leaders echoed Chairman Melendez’s sentiments.

They shared stories which indicated that a bleak future because of dysfunctional family units, low academic success, and high unemployment led many Native Americans to feel hopeless.

“That despair often leads to addiction,” said Monty Williams, the director of the Statewide Native American Coalition.

According to a report from the Office of National Drug Control Policy, one in five American Indians 12 years and older have used illicit drugs.  Indian Health Services recently reported that the rate of drug-related deaths among American Indian and Alaska Native people is almost twice that of the general population.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), indicates that death from prescription opioid overdose among American Indian increased almost four-fold from 1999 to 2013.

Veronica Domingues-Gephart, who is the director of the behavioral health department at the RSTHC, said that in Indian Country, opioid dependency is often linked
to depression and anxiety among young people.

“What we have found is that often times the youth are suffering a lot from identity issues,” Domingues-Gephart said. “These emotional issues can eventually lead to substance and opioid abuse as a coping mechanism.”

More data from the CDC supports Domingues-Gephart’s statements.

Throughout the U.S., over 1,000 people are treated in emergency departments for misusing prescription opioids every single day.

Two years ago, 10,500 individuals died from a heroin overdose which was a 26 percent increase from 2013.  Over 9 million children in the U.S., live with a parent or other adult who uses illegal drugs.  Even more alarming, the National Alliance for Drug Endangered Children believes the numbers in Indian Country are worse.

“Opioid addiction is such a serious problem that it is impacting and affecting people in every state of the country,” Secretary Vilsack said. “…opioid abuse is an equal opportunity killer and we know that opioids are the introductory drug. Eighty percent of all heroin users begin their use with opioids.”

In addition to outlining the latest harrowing statistics about drug addiction, Secretary Vilsack also shared his own experience.

“When I was young, my mom struggled mightily with addiction,” Secretary Vilsack said. I saw a downward spiral in her life for five or six years, where she was hospitalized a couple of times and even attempted suicide.”

Mercifully, Secretary Vilsack said that his mother turned her life around, primarily because there were people to help her.

“What is painful for me to hear, is these current situations where either families do not acknowledge they need help, or when they do acknowledge it, there is no one there to provide the help and the assistance needed.”

Secretary Vilsack’s visit to the RSTHC was his first in Indian Country.

Reina returns to Colony with public service mission

During his 42-year professional career, public service has always been the focus for Edward “Ed” Reina.

His commitment to helping others could have been ignited as he was raised in a large family. His dedication to community might have started when as an adolescent he realized all people were not treated fairly.

Furthermore, Reina’s devotion to humanity probably was solidified during his two-year stint in the U.S. Army. Now as the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony’s Tribal Administrator, Reina’s efforts to better serve his community are even more refined.

A member of the Akimel O’Odham and Xalychidom Piipaash or Salt River Pima-Mariopa Tribe located in greater Phoenix, Reina believes that when everyone operates together, a community is better served.

“Everyone is doing great work here (at the RSIC), but our departments are working in silos,” Reina said. “We have a lot of potential to enhance our services by working together.”

Though the majority of Reina’s work history is in law enforcement, he said that his life-long philosophy—team work with a focus on public service—will remain as the tribal administrator.

“I quickly learned that in law enforcement, I could make a difference. “As chief of police, I worked with other agencies, not just locally, but county, state, and even nationally, to enhance services to our communities.”

In his capacity as tribal administrator, Reina looks for his collaborative philosophy to continue.

“When I worked (in law enforcement) I was given a great opportunity to do prevention and intervention rather than incarceration, plus I could work with other service agencies.”

Reina started at the RSIC in July. As tribal administrator, he is responsible for managing and overseeing the operations of 17 RSIC departments and several programs within those divisions.

And this isn’t Reina’s first stop at the Colony. From 1997 to 2000, Reina served as the chief of tribal police for the RSIC.

“I am looking forward to reconnect with this community,” Reina said. “I enjoyed it here.”

However, it was his commitment to his family—now six children, 22 grandchildren and two great grandchildren, which took him back to Scottsdale, Ariz.

“For me, family is a priority,” Reina said. “I had young children and grandchildren and I needed to be home and that is primarily why I left.”

After 16 years, Reina said that not a lot has changed at the RSIC, but he noted the expansion of business development. He added that the remodel of the administrative offices at 34 Reservation Rd., is very impressive.

“It means we can provide even more services and develop a coalition to better serve our community,” Reina said.

Not one to leave projects unfinished, Reina finished his bachelor’s degree online in 2016 after he started with a traditional college education in 1978.

“I hate to leave anything undone,” Reina said.

Of course, his formal college credentials came after his military service. Drafted in 1968 during the Vietnam Conflict, Reina was stationed in Germany, though he never experienced combat.

It was the military where Reina saw that teamwork or a multi-discipline approach is the best method to solve problems, especially when the aim is to serve the public.

“When helping our community, we need to include all our departments, even our faith based organizations, to develop a plan to address the underlining problem, then, hopefully, we will correct it,” Reina said. “For example, if we have a juvenile skipping school, as a coalition we can discuss the case and identify the underlying problem which may be a dysfunctional home environment, then we can effectively address the situation.”

Reina believes that the RSIC’s recently adopted strategic plan will provide excellent guidance.

In addition, he wants to incorporate Native traditions such as an elder group that might work with the tribal court, add a mentoring program for youth, and develop alternatives to incarceration.

“These methods build self-confidence,” Reina said. “My goal has always been to serve, and like all of Indian Country, we are one community, and the role of our positions is public service for our people.”

Editor’s note: Reina operates on an open door policy and invites RSIC Tribal members to visit his office.



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.


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.