Bill benefiting Nevada Native Americans awaiting President's signature

Published: Oct. 3, 2016 at 9:22 PM PDT
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A bill placed on the president's desk Monday could mean big changes for six Native American tribes in Nevada.

"The Nevada Native Nation's Land Act" (H.R. 2733) takes 71,000 acres of land from control of the Bureau of Land Management and places it in the control individual tribes.

The Reno-Sparks Indian Colony is set to receive a 13,434-acre chunk of land adjacent to its Hungry Valley reservation. The reservation will grow to more than six times its current size of 1,960 acres. The additional land is seen as a way to move the tribe forward into the future. It will also provide land on which the tribe can build new homes.

“Housing is one of our priorities for the tribal council. We still have a waiting list of people that need houses," said Arlan Melendez, Chairman of the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony.

Wildfires caused by target shooting have been an issue near Hungry Valley in recent years. The tribe is considering cracking down on target shooting to prevent problems in the future. They also want to reduce illegal dumping and designate certain areas for off-road vehicle use.

"It has to do with location. I think some things can maybe still happen, but they need to be moved maybe a little bit away from the community. As you know we are charged with keeping our community safe,” said Melendez.

The 71,000 acres included in the bill will be spread across multiple tribes.The Fort McDermitt Paiute and Shoshone Tribe of the Fort McDermitt Indian Reservation will receive 19,094 acres of BLM land. The Shoshone-Paiute Tribes of the Duck Valley Indian Reservation will receive 82 acres of Forest Service land. The Summit Lake Paiute Tribe will receive 941 acres of BLM land. The Reno-Sparks Indian Colony will receive 13,434 acres of BLM land. The Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe will receive 6,357 acres of BLM land and The Duckwater Shoshone Tribe will receive 31,269 acres of BLM land.

The bill was sponsored by Congressman Mark Amodei (R-NV). It has already passed through the House and the Senate. It reached the president’s desk October 3, 2016.