The Reno-Sparks Indian Colony is staying out of a flap over a plan to display a giant Western mural on the city's new $40 million downtown events center.
The colony's tribal council considered the matter after Councilwoman Toni Harsh said she wanted to know whether American Indians were offended by the mural's portrayal of their ancestors.
The mural depicts a band of armed Indians hiding in bluffs near a waterfall, poised to attack a covered-wagon train camp. It stood for 50 years on the front of Harolds Club in downtown Reno until the casino was demolished in 1999.
At a meeting last week, the tribal council decided not to take a position on whether the mural is politically correct in its depiction of American Indians.
"There are various opinions on art. And we don't want to get into the middle of that," tribal Chairman Arlan Melendez told the Reno Gazette-Journal.
Mayor Bob Cashell said the colony did the right thing by not getting involved. He said he was baffled by Harsh's request for Indians' opinions because the mural never generated any controversy at Harolds.
"That's a very smart position," he said. "It's just fun and games."
Despite the colony's stance, council members are still undecided about whether to put the mural on the new events center.
Melendez said that while he's not greatly offended by the mural, he thinks it's historically inaccurate. It's more like something out of a Hollywood movie, he said.
"It really didn't depict the Washoe-Shoshone people," he said. "It was something done a long time ago. And we understand that."
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