Category Archives: What’s Happening

American Indians Relish First All Native Honor Flight

Forty-three Native American Veterans have made history, again.

Last month, Honor Flight Nevada, a non-profit organization whose mission is to transport military veterans to Washington D.C., to tour our nation’s capital and visit those memorials dedicated to honor the service and sacrifices of them and their friends, organized an all-Native trip for American Indians living in the Great Basin.

“We’ve had Native Americans on trips, but we weren’t able to show them their memorials specific for them,” said Jon Yuspa, founder of Honor Flight Nevada. “With this trip solely dedicated to Native Americans, we wanted to bring attention to their service and show the rest of the nation that they should be doing the same thing.”

Though it is well documented that based on our overall population and the percentage of volunteers, American Indians have a served in the United States Military more than any other ethnicity or gender, many Americans do not know about the long history of service by Native Americans.

This three-day trip certainly helped get that message out while reminding the veterans in what high esteem they are held.

Retired four-star General and former presidential candidate, Barry McCaffrey, who was the keynote speaker at the Vietnam Memorial Wall Ceremony held every Veterans Day, recognized the all-Native American Honor Flight within the first minutes of his speech.

“Native Americans enlist in greater numbers than the rest of the population and they move to the front areas of the combat zone,” General McCaffrey told thousands of onlookers. “They have suffered huge casualties, so there’s a special debt of gratitude we owe to them.”

In addition, the group got special, up close seating and participated in the prestigious Vietnam Wall ceremony.

Veteran Grizz Hilpert, a member of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe who helped lay the wreath, was touched by the quick recognition and the inclusion.

“We weren’t last for a change,” Hilpert said. “That sounds funny, but we’re used to kind of being sent out back.”

However, this historic experience was totally different. Nothing during the trip was second class according to Gary McCloud of the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony. “We were treated better than dignitaries,” McCloud said.

And accolades like McCloud’s were plentiful.

“It was a million dollar trip,” said John Smith, a 95-year-old, World War II Veteran and the eldest participant. Smith, who lives on the Walker River Paiute Reservation said that the group shared so many laughs, it was just a priceless trip.

Certainly, one of factors which made the experience so unique, was the spirited, spontaneous greetings and the magnificent welcomes the group enjoyed beginning with their departure from the Reno Tahoe International Airport and ending with their return to the same spot.

The veterans relished their complimentary flight aboard Battle Born Nevada One, a Southwest Airlines custom designed and painted 737 aircraft.

At every turn of the trip, crowds greeted the veterans with applause, thanks, cheers and sometimes tears.

“People—a lot of little kids, too—lined up to shake our hands and thank us for our service,” said Harvey Merino, a Veteran who did four tours in Vietnam. “People shook our hands starting in Reno at the airport, and it continued in Washington, D.C., at all the memorial sites, and until we got home.”

For many of the veterans, like Robert Tillman, also known as Truckee Bob, the rousing greetings from complete strangers were noteworthy.

“The last time I was in Washington D.C., after the war, people greeted me with jeers and threw fruit at us,” said Tillman, a Paiute Indian who heads up the Pyramid Lake Veterans and Warriors Organization or the Numa Tookwasu.

Even though returning home from war should have been one of the highlights of military service, because the Vietnam Conflict was so controversial, many soldiers were met with hostility by the general public.

“This was worth waiting 48 years for,” said Ray Harrison, a Sioux who lives in the Elko area. “I don’t think I’ve ever been treated better.”

In addition to several special surprises, the All-Native Honor Flight Nevada, visited several monuments including: the United States Navy Memorial, the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, the Korean War Veterans Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial and Iwo Jima Marine Memorial, the National World War II Memorial, and the Air Force Memorial.

The All-Native Honor Flight Nevada included two stops at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, a tour of Arlington National Cemetery, also with VIP seating at the changing of the guard.

At the American Indian Museum, the veterans were treated to lunch with a Navajo Code Talker, Thomas H. Begay.

During World War II, radio transmission was the fastest way to deliver commands overseas.

In 1942, Marines from the Navajo tribe began to send voice transmissions in their Native language. It was impossible for the enemy to interpret or gain intelligence from these messages even if they were able to intercept the information.

Besides sharing his personal stories as a Navajo Code Talker, Begay sang the Marines’ Hymn in Navajo which was a thrill to all the veterans, but especially to the six fellow Marines.

During another museum visit, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert A. McDonald gave his personal regards to the veterans during a private reception. McDonald presented each Native Veteran with a commemorative Department of Veterans Affairs coin.

Furthermore, with a police escort during the entire stay, the veterans were treated to ideal vantage points of the White House, the Capital Building, the Pentagon, the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial Arlington Memorial Bridge and the Old Post Office Washington D.C., now Trump Hotel. To see these sites, the group did not even de-board their luxury coach.

Honor Flight is a nationwide program and in Nevada, it has organized flights since 2012. The Veterans trip expenses are paid for thanks to monetary donations as well as donated plane tickets compliments of Southwest Airlines.

One of three female veterans on the trip, Jeanine Paul said that Honor Flight Nevada made all the veterans feel special and important.

“From the initial briefing to the massive return celebration at the airport, we were so touched,” Paul said.

Michael Moreno is from a Southwest tribe who resides in Northern Nevada, agreed with Paul.

“I feel good in my heart,” he said.




It’s Official: President signs Nevada Native Nations Land Act

Calling it the greatest development for today’s generation, the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony Chairman Arlan D. Melendez expressed delight as the Colony learned on Friday morning that President Barack Obama has signed to the Nevada Native Nations Lands Act.

“All parties in the local and surrounding areas will benefit from this legislation,” Chairman Melendez said.

Last week, Congress voted to approve H.R. 2455.  This federal law will transfer about 71,000 acres of land that is currently under federal control to six Great Basin Indian Tribes.

The tribes have been working with Nevada’s Congressional delegation for four years on this legislation. The idea for this transfer commenced when Congressman Mark Amodei brought Indian Affairs Subcommittee Chairman Don Young to Nevada and the tribes discussed with Amodei and Young their need for more land.

The coalition of tribes in Nevada have some of the smallest land bases in Indian country and this important legislation will add land to their reservations which will be put to beneficial use for housing, economic development and cultural activities.

Chairman Melendez whole-heartily agrees.

“Currently, we are completely landlocked,” Chairman Melendez said. “We cannot build one more house on our original 20 acres.”

However, Chairman Melendez believes housing is just one of many benefits the transfer of land provides.

The Nevada Native Nations Lands Act gives the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony jurisdiction of 13,434 continuing acreage to its Hungry Valley land base.

The Senators Reid and Heller navigated S.1436 through the Senate Indian Affairs Committee on October 21, 2015 and to Senate passage on April 14, 2016. Nevada Congressmen Mark Amodei, Joe Heck, and Cresent Hardy introduced the House companion (H.R.2733), and navigated it to House-passage on June 7, 2016. On Sept. 29, the Senate passed the Nevada Native Nations Lands Act via a hotline vote.

Senator Reid played a key role in negotiating with Bureau of Land Management and helping to fine tune the legislation and Senator Heller worked with his Republican colleagues to ensure passage.

“All the tribes greatly appreciate the hard work on the part of the Nevada Congressional delegation in getting this bill to final passage,” Chairman Melendez said. “This is a truly historic time for our tribes and a federal law which will benefit our people for years to come.”

Currently, the Bureau of Land Management or the U.S. Forest Service administers nearly 48 million acres of public lands in Nevada.  The acreage the six tribes are asking to be transferred is just 0.17 percent of the over 80 percent of the land in Nevada which is owned by the federal government.

Chairman Melendez said that the RSIC and all the tribes look forward to working with their partners in local government   to ensure the best use of this land to benefit tribal and neighboring communities.

“Native people are one with the land and it raises our spirit,” Chairman Melendez said.  “We appreciate that our national leaders, Congressman Mark Amodei, Senator Dean Heller, Senator Harry Reid—they understanding that.”

In addition, the land the RSIC hopes to transfer also holds cultural significance with several landscape features which are used for traditional religious practices and a source of medicinal plants.

Chairman Melendez said that securing the additional acreage in Hungry Valley will allow the tribe—Paiute, Shoshone and Washoe people, to teach their children their spiritual heritage in an appropriate setting.

“We want to teach our children our values by using the land like it is supposed to be used.”

This summer, Senator Reid provided a statement at the Senate Committee hearings and in his remarks he said that land is lifeblood to Native Americans and this bill provides space for housing, economic development, traditional uses and cultural protection. Senator Heller, who introduced the companion bill heard by the Senate, outlined his commitment to the tribes.

“I’m proud this important bipartisan legislation empowering Nevada’s tribal leaders to make important decisions affecting their communities will soon become law,” Senator Heller said.

The five other tribes involved are the Te-Moak, Shoshone Paiute Tribes of Duck Valley, the Pyramid Lake Paiutes, the Summit Lake Paiutes and the Ft. McDermitt Paiute and Shoshone Tribe.

Outline of Nevada Native Nations Land Act
Fort McDermitt Paiute and Shoshone Tribe
Conveys 19,094 acres of BLM land to be held in trust for the tribe.

Duck Valley Shoshone Paiute Tribes
Conveys 82 acres of Forest Service land to be held in trust for the tribe.

Summit Lake Paiute Tribe
Conveys 941 acres of BLM land to be held in trust for the tribe.

Reno-Sparks Indian Colony
Conveys 13,434 acres of BLM land to be held in trust for the tribe.

Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe
Conveys 6,357 acres of BLM land to be held in trust for the tribe.

Duckwater Shoshone Tribe
Conveys 31,229 acres of BLM land to be held in trust for the tribe.

Chairman Receives Two Lifetime Achievement Awards

The Reno-Sparks Indian Colony’s Tribal Chairman Arlan D. Melendez will be presented with two lifetime achievement awards by two different organizations this week. The Native American Finance Officers Association (NAFOA) and the National Indian Health Board (NIHB) will each publically honor Chairman Melendez for his significant contributions to their respective national organizations.

During its 9th Annual Lifetime Achievement Awards Luncheon on Tuesday, the NAFOA recognized the distinguished achievements of Chairman Melendez. The prestigious NAFOA Lifetime Achievement Award is given to an Indian Country leader who has made significant contributions to tribal economic development throughout the span of his or her career.

During the 6th Annual Heroes in Native Health Awards Gala on Wednesday, the NIHB will honor and recognize Chairman Melendez for his dedication to advancing the delivery of health care to Tribal communities.

2016 NAFOA Lifetime Achievement Award Winner
RSIC Chairman Arlan D. Melendez

Chairman Melendez holds the highest elected office at the RSIC, a position he has had for over 25-years. His uninterrupted leadership is unprecedented in Indian Country as are his appointments to federal, state, and tribal government posts.

A U.S. Armed Forces veteran, Melendez served in the U.S. Marine Corps during the Vietnam Era. Under his direction, the Colony has developed and maintained a strong and fiscally sound government. The RSIC has taken advantage of its strategic location within a metropolitan area to create a viable economic tax base which has helped the tribe attract business development to the reservation.

With Chairman Melendez’s leadership, the RSIC has partnered with the State of Nevada, Washoe County, the cities of Reno and Sparks, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs to put 108 acres into Trust Land. This remarkable collaboration has expanded the RSIC’s total land base to over 2,000 acres.

The reservation lands consist of the original 28 acre residential Colony located in central west Reno and another 1,920 acres in Hungry Valley, which is 19 miles north of the Colony and west of Spanish Springs, Nev., nestled in scenic Eagle Canyon.

Nationally, in 2005, Chairman Melendez was appointed to a six-year-term on the United States Commission on Civil Rights by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid. An independent, bipartisan, fact-finding federal agency, the Civil Rights Commission’s mission champions the development of national civil rights policy and enhance enforcement of federal civil rights laws.

In 2010, he was appointed by Governor Brian Sandoval to the Nevada Gaming Policy Committee.

Last year, Chairman Melendez was appointed to serve as treasurer for the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI). NCAI is the oldest, largest and most representative American Indian and Alaska Native organization serving the broad interests of tribal governments and communities. Today, he chairs the taxation subcommittee for the NCAI.

Chairman Melendez’s term as a volunteer on the local Selective Service Board expired in June, after a 20-year commitment.

Though Chairman Melendez works on a number of issues, he has a passion for quality health care and has been a strong advocate and voice on the local and national level for improved health care for Native people.  Of the many accomplishments, the most rewarding is the RSIC’s state-of-the art tribal health care center, which serves thousands of Native Americans in the Reno-Sparks area.

Currently, Chairman Melendez serves on the U.S. Health and Human Services’ National Tribal Advisory Committee (STAC), directed by Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell as well as the Phoenix Area Tribal Health Steering Committee.

Today, Chairman Melendez is a current Board Member of CHIEF, the Christian Hope Indian Eskimo Fellowship, which is a Native Christian outreach organization located in Phoenix. He was also a founding member of the Colony Christian Fellowship Church located on the Reno-Sparks Colony.

In addition, Chairman Melendez is the past president of the Inter-Tribal Council of Nevada (ITCN) and has been Western Region Vice-President of NCAI, for three different terms. Chairman Melendez lives on the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony with his wife Joyce. They have four grown children.

What other leaders are saying about Chairman Melendez:

“Chairman Melendez has provided over 25 years of stability and leadership for his tribe.  His leadership at the local level has transcended across this nation with his participation on national boards and commissions, bringing awareness to critical tribal issues.  I congratulate Chairman Melendez on this richly deserved recognition.”
Sherry Rupert, Executive Director of the Nevada Indian Commission

“Arlan Melendez has been a transformational leader not just for Reno Sparks, but for all of Indian Country. His work embodies NCAI’s mission, and we have benefitted from his steadfast and visionary leadership for many years. Arlan has been a strong friend and mentor, and his passion for advancing the rights of his tribe and all of Indian Country has been a model for me personally.”
Jacqueline Pata, Executive Director, National Congress of American Indians

“Chairman Melendez has been an important figure in the Reno community for a quarter century. His legacy will be marked by his important work in the legislature and advocacy for Indian people and tribal communities across the U.S., in particular our region. On behalf of the Reno City Council, I congratulate him on this impressive, well-deserved achievement.”
Hillary Schieve, Mayor of the City of Reno

“I want to congratulate Chairman Arlan Melendez on his prestigious recognitions, as they are truly well deserved. Chairman Melendez is truly a lifetime leader for the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony having served for 25-years, and has made a difference in the quality of life for our Native American community.  I am proud to call him a friend and grateful for his leadership and service to our state and tribe.”
Geno Martini, Mayor of the City of Sparks

“The City of Reno is fortunate to have Chairman Melendez as a friend and neighbor. Chairman Melendez’s leadership has been paramount for the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony. His voice and dedication has led the way for many in the community and I am privileged to have the opportunity to collaborate with him to better serve the region.”
Oscar Delgado, Vice-Mayor of the City of Reno

 “Chairman Melendez serves as an example of how Native leaders can protect the future of Indian Country by investing in the most precious resource we have- our youth. By being a strong and constant advocate, and providing support to Native organizations and Native communities, Chairman Melendez has been working for over 25 years to ensure Native communities have control over the lives and destiny of their people.”
Ahniwake Rose, National Indian Education Association Executive Director

 “As I am a young leader, Chairman Melendez goes out of his way to make me feel comfortable in any situation. He always knows the right things to say, and I could call on him today and he would always steer me in the right direction. He is definitely a leader and visionary. I admire him for the dedication and the hard work he does for the RSIC, Nevada Tribes and Tribes around the United States.”
Chairman Len George, Fallon Paiute-Shoshone Tribe

“Chairman Melendez is humble, with consistent fair leadership and is on point with discussion or action items in the best interest of tribal people and operations. He is a longtime friend and inspiration for tribal leadership.”
 Chairman Lindsey Manning, Shoshone-Paiute Tribes of Duck Valley

“I am honored to have known Chairman Melendez for many years. I have witnessed first-hand his dedication not just to his community, but to all Americans via his military service and his many national appointments including on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. These lifetime achievement awards are well-deserved.”
John Oceguera, Senior Vice-President of Strategies 360, Nevada Operations and Former Nevada State Assembly Speaker of the House

Proclamation: Celebrating 80-Years of Sovereignty

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Arlan D. Melendez, Chairman
Reno-Sparks Indian Colony

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




Administration Offices Relocated

The Reno-Sparks Indian Colony Chairman’s Office, Administrative Offices, Finance Department, Public Relations Office, Fund Development, Human Resources, and the Tribal Council Secretary have moved to:

34 Reservation Road
Reno, NV 89502

Please update your records and if you have questions, please call us at:

(775) 329-2936

Our phone numbers, fax numbers, email addresses, and website will stay the same.

Our new address will also be the mailing address for all other RSIC departments.

All administrative offices formerly operating from 98 Reservation Road have relocated to 34 Reservation Road.