Fallon Paiute-Shoshone Tribe honors Mother Earth in Lahontan Valley
This story was first published in the May 2017 edition of First Nation’s Focus.
FALLON, Nev. — Earth Day in the Lahontan Valley took on an additional meaning this year.
Not only does the annual event bring awareness to the preservation of Earth, but it also drew more interest in water because of potential flooding along the Carson River due to the record snowfall in the Sierra Nevada.
”Honor Mother Earth. Get out and discuss the issues,” said Len George, chairman of the Fallon Paiute-Shoshone Tribe, as he opened the annual event.
Earth Day attracted 20 million Americans in 1970, its first year in which many people expressed alarm about the state of Earth and what must be done to preserve it. As a result of the concerns and activism, Congress passed the Clean Air Act in 1970, Endangered Species Act in 1973 and the Safe Water Act one year later during President Richard Nixon’s administration.
According to numerous website sources, the first Earth Day in the United States drew 22 million people, while worldwide, 200 million people participated. That number has now grown to over 1 billion attendees in 192 counties.
Both FPST and state agencies that set up informational tables discussed various topics, while artists, dancers and a band also attended. Most of the interest and discussion, though, came back to this year’s abundance of water.
FPST Environmental Director Richard Black said he saw many people interacting with the various presenters.
“I did see quite a few people receiving outreach on the wetlands,” he said.
He said presenters discussed the wetlands and how water affects both the vegetation and birds.
“We do have a cultural path through the wetlands that goes past the cattails and tules (grassy plans),” said Black, pointing out that people enjoy walking the path and seeing what nature offers.
The numerous wetlands in Churchill County have received more than their share of water this spring, a fact not lost on Black.
“Water is everything,” he said, “and in the desert, water is life.”
Mary Kay Wagner, an environmental scientist with the Nevada Department of Environmental Protection, had informational boards set up to educate visitors about protecting both ground and drinking water.
“We educate people where drinking water comes from and how to protect water quality,” she said.
Wagner said she recently finished a plan with Churchill County and said local officials are very proactive in dealing with water. Overall, Wagner said through her discussions, she promotes the best practices in preventing pollution, which can be found in many substances such as toxic fluids and oil that into ground water or streams, for example.
“It’s easier to prevent than to clean,” she said.
Additionally, Wagner said water is a precious commodity that all people have a right to use.
Stacey Montooth, a member of the Walker River Paiute Nation who works currently as Public Relations and Community Information Officer for the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony, will start her new role Sept. 1.