Category Archives: Headlines

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


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.