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Tribal council gets federal grant while fighting federal court ruling

Winnemucca Indian Colony
Winnemucca Indian Colony(KOLO-TV)
Published: Jun. 25, 2020 at 6:35 PM PDT
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WINNEMUCCA, Nev. (KOLO) -Few could argue the colony was long overdue for cleanup and investment.

Alongside well-kept homes, trash, derelict vehicles and campers. Scattered about, drug paraphernalia and, literally, barrels of human waste. It’s what can happen during nearly two decades of government neglect.

In 2000 Tribal Chairman Glenn Wasson, embroiled in a dispute with the tribe’s vice-chairman, was found murdered on the steps of the colony’s administration building. In spite of apparent leads, FBI and Bureau of Indian Affairs investigators never solved the murder.

A leadership struggle followed, with--at one point--three different groups claiming to be the colony’s government. The BIA declined to recognize any of them and in the more than decade that followed the colony became a lawless 20 acre enclave within the city limits with few rules, where no local law enforcement could go.

Finally the leadership struggle seemed solved as a federal district judge stepped in and ordered the recognition of Glenn Wasson’s followers as the colony’s government.

The council hired a contractor to clean things up and address unsafe water and power hookups.

Now it says it’s just received more federal money to continue the work, build homes and pave streets. But some residents have opposed the cleanup and last week won a victory at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals getting a ruling from a three-judge panel that reverses that leadership decision years ago, potentially leaving the colony again without a recognized government.

Undeterred, Tribal Chair Judy Rojo says the council will press forward with its work.

“It’s just another situation that we have to go through, but our council is working very hard to make sure we continue the work.”

And she says they will seek a rehearing before the entire court.

Copyright 2020 KOLO. All rights reserved.

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