Nevada tribal chairman death ruled suicide

Former Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribal Chairman Wayne Burke, whose death on Sunday has been ruled a suicide, will be named the Native American Community Leader of the Year during the Nevada Indian Commission's annual awards ceremony, said Chairwoman Sherry Rupert.

"With his veterans' affairs initiatives, statewide and nationally, he advocated on behalf of all Native American veterans," Rupert said. "The impacts of his death will be felt far and wide, not just in his tribe."

"I think it's a huge loss, not just for the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe, but for Indian country across the nation."

The Washoe County Medical Examiner's Office said Thursday an autopsy shows Burke died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. Burke died at about 2 a.m. Sunday in Nixon. He was 38.

Burke was elected in 2010 to the 10-member tribal council that governs the 2,600-member Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe, whose reservation is located about 35 miles northeast of Reno. He was elected tribal chairman in 2011.

The Nevada Indian Commission's 2012 American Indian Achievement Awards Banquet and Silent Auction will be Nov. 10 at the Governor's Mansion.

Burke was the first Native American to serve on the Nevada Commission on Tourism, having been appointed by Gov. Brian Sandoval.

A memorial service for Burke is scheduled for 11 a.m. Tuesday at the Nixon Gym.

"A recent appointee to the Commission on Tourism, Chairman Burke's voice will be missed," Sandoval said. "Chairman Burke was a vocal advocate for Pyramid Lake and tribal issues, and I admired his leadership. Wayne Burke valiantly served his country in the Marine Corps and I was proud to call him a friend."


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