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Senator Cortez Masto’s Northern Nevada Rural Lands Proposal Includes Tribal Voices

Amber Torres

Walker River Paiute Tribe

The Walker River Paiute Tribe has lived in Northern Nevada for thousands of years. The Great Basin was home to our ancestors for generations and has shaped our culture and way of life. Now, we’re fighting to protect these sacred lands from further misuse and preserve the sacred sites, cultural artifacts and historical resources on the land.

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The Walker River Paiute Tribe’s reservation lands have been contaminated for decades by bomb testing activities at the Fallon Naval Air Station and it was high time for the tribe’s grievances to be addressed by our trustee, the United States. Senator Cortez Masto has listened to our concerns, gave us ample opportunities to provide input, and her alternative solution in the Northern Nevada Rural Land Management, Conservation, and Military Readiness Act includes a just resolution for the Walker River Paiute Tribe.

The proposal includes a historic $20 million payment from the U.S. Navy in response to historic contamination on over 6,000 acres of the tribe’s reservation lands, as well as replacement lands for the tribe to engage in critical, non-gaming economic development enterprises. The proposal also includes important provisions for cultural resources protection and would create at least three new National Conservation Areas – Fox Peak, Grimes Point, and Pistone-Black Mountain, an area of cultural significance to our tribe and our people.

Northern Nevada is sacred to the Walker River Paiute Tribe and our fellow tribes in the region and we will take every opportunity to safeguard our home. While this alternative isn’t perfect, it does represent a solution that gives us a voice at the table. 

The Walker River Paiute Tribe has always believed in the importance of collaboration and the strength of finding a path towards healing. Moving forward, we will continue to advocate for protections for our cultural and natural resources and sacred sites. Resolution of our long-standing, historic grievances is a significant step in the right direction.  

Amber Torres is chairman of the Walker River Paiute Tribe.