Fallon Paiute Shoshone Tribe’s pinwheel event protects children and Earth
FALLON, Nev. — Chris Murphy and his family mark the annual late-April pinwheels remembrance and Earth Day as important events the Fallon Paiute Shoshone Tribe brings to Churchill County.
“It gives our community a point of reference to show we clearly care about our kids,” said Murphy, who has lived in Fallon for 30 years, after planting a pinwheel at Fox Peak Station.
Scores of walkers trekked from Oats Park the morning of April 21 to Fox Peak to plant pinwheels and reflect on the importance of preventing child abuse and making people of all ages aware of abusive incidences.
With his two young children in tow, Murphy revealed he was a victim of child abuse and that’s where his heart is: To instill in our children it’s acceptable to talk about abuse and to report it.
“I tell my daughters no one should touch you,” he said. “It also gives abuse victims to talk to an adult they know.”
Autumn Boggs, 18, and her brother Seth, 15, both from Reno, participated in the walk. They said it’s important for teenagers to participate in the walk and to become more aware of child abuse and how to prevent it.
The planting of pinwheels to bring awareness to child abuse has become a passion for both Jennifer Pishion and Laura Ijames.
“This is one of the better counties to bring awareness (to child abuse),” said Pishion, director of the FPST’s Youth and Family Services. “We all definitely step up to stop child abuse and let everyone know how important it is to report it. We ensure those investigations get done, and the children and families are safe.”
Pishion said her office also handles investigations for elder abuse. Ijames, FPST’ secretary, said the pinwheel walk is for prevention and to stop abuse.
“We have to stop it and prevent it so our kids are safer,” she said.
Sandra Williams works with Pishion at Youth and Family Services. She echoed Pishion and Ijames, saying the community’s No. 1 priority must be children. Without them, she said there’s no future.
“We must make sure our children are well taken care of and make sure we don’t abuse them,” she said, adding many concerned people are making an impact from the national platform to the county and to local tribes.
Both Ijames and FPST Chairman Len George also lauded the signing of new Amber Alert legislation last week by President Donald Trump that gives more leeway to tribal law enforcement agencies. Before Trump signed the legislation, tribal law enforcement agencies were required to work through state and local police and sheriff departments to have Amber Alert information posted. The Ashlynne Mike Ambeer Alert for Indian Country Act also gives tribes direct access to federal grants to improve their technology.
Both Ijames and George said the new legislation eliminates the middle man, but Ijames said in Churchill County, the FPST still works very closely with the other agencies. This bill we make the cooperation stronger. George said simplifying the reporting is to everyone’s benefit.
“We would first go through tribal police and then off the reservation,” George said before the President’s signing, “and then we would call Churchill County and the state. This legislation gets rid of the extra step.”
After the walk, the FPST’s Earth Day kicked off its 19th year.
When Earth Day comes, we get the staff together and put out a great event,” George said. “Each year seems to get bigger and bigger and it’s always great for everybody. People to come out and enjoy the event.”
Vendors representing local and out-of-area agencies set up their tables with many displays educating visitors about the land and environment.
FPST Environmental Director Richard Black said Earth Day reminds residents — both in the community and on tribal land — how to take care of their land.
“This is something we’ve been doing since 2000,” he said “We do it every year to bring attention to the environment, protecting it and preserving our natural resources. Today we need to remind ourselves where we came from and bring our outreach for everyone out here.
Black said he appreciates and other state and federal agencies for promoting Earth Day and making people aware of today’s water issues.
“Water is valuable to this valley,” he said. “Water is life, and we need to protect it.” Black said both the Nevada Department of Environmental Protection and the Federal Environmental Protection Agency are still collaborating to rid the Carson River of its mercury.
Black said the 27 tribes meet quarterly to discuss the environment and natural resources.
“We share many of the same problems,” he added.
Steve Ranson is editor emeritus of the Lahontan Valley News, a news organization within the Sierra Nevada Media Group, which publishes First Nation’s Focus.