Native American Veterans Honored

American Flag: Stefano Montagner / CC BY 2.0
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RENO, NV - The Reno-Sparks Indian Colony honored those who have served our country at a special ceremony at the RSIC tribal gymnasium Wednesday night.

"We've always welcomed our veterans home," said RSIC Tribal Chairman Arlan Melendez. "I know during the Vietnam conflict they weren't welcomed home in the appropriate manner but our Native Americans have always honored our veterans that come home and those that have given their lives for our country, we honor them tonight also."

Members of the colony marched in the annual Veterans Day Parade in downtown Reno to honor active and retired military members, including four WWII veterans.

Wednesday night's ceremony opened with the presentation and posting of colors.

"I'm part of a group from Pyramid Lake, we call ourselves black shirts," said Ralph Burns, a Pyramid Lake Paiute elder. "Long ago, in the 1860's, soldiers we saw from far away, we thought they were wearing black shirts so that's where the name came from and this is part of the color guard from Pyramid Lake."

Generations showed their support and thanks for those who have gone before and those who continue to serve.

"The tradition continues with our young people following in the footsteps of their grandfathers and fathers," Melendez said. "We're really proud of that legacy and always answering the call to defend our country."

It's a tradition that goes back generations.

"Way back during WWI a lot of our people joined that weren't even citizens of the United States yet, we didn't get citizenship until 1924," Burns said. "I think there's something awesome about that."