February 14 may have been a day of blossoming romance for some.
But, for Native Nevadans at the Nevada State Senate in Carson City, that day depicted a different form of love by celebrating the sixth Nevada Tribes Legislative Day, with generations of families and loved ones.
Tribes from Fallon, Pyramid Lake, Reno-Sparks and Washoe gathered at the event.
To celebrate this day is important to local tribes as Nevada is one of only two states in the nation to have the day memorialized, and celebrates tribal contributions and lifestyle in the state.
The newest feature this year was an exhibit of Notable Native Nevadans displayed in the Senate Atrium on the second floor.
“This is their house, too,” said Sherry Rupert, executive director of the Nevada Indian Commission. “Their children can come and learn here, too. We voted and elected these officials.”
In the past years, Tribal Legislative Day has addressed topics such as taxes, health care and education, while emphasizing the importance of being engaged with other governments. The day also is an opportunity for tribal leaders to meet one-on-one with senate and assembly representatives.
Assemblyman Ira Hansen of District 32 has been a longtime supporter of the memorialized day.
“We have many different tribes in the state,” he said. “I represent it. The greater the influence, the more cohesive the community is.”
This year, education among children and the community was a heavy focus, and debuting information about the remodeling of Stewart Indian School, part of bill SB83: Stewart Indian School Living Legacy and tourism development fund, with the Indian commission.
The day started out with a tour of the Stewart Indian School.
“That school impacted 30,00 lives,” Rupert said. “We have a stronger voice with our Gov. Brian Sandoval. Through this bill, we want to continue building more relationships and more sponsorships.”
To further promote education within tribal communities, Saundra Mitrovich, outreach and retention coordinator at the University of Nevada, Reno, spoke about building more strategic plans with school district representatives to further support bill AB66, ensuring student achievement for Native students.
“As far as graduation rates for Native American students, we still have work to do, nationally and locally,” she said. “We need to support both academic and athletic balance.”
As for education in general, the Nevada Veterans Network also expressed the importance of educating Native American veterans about outreach and benefits to their tribes. Director Kat Miller read proclamation to conduct the first sponsored state summit for Native Americans this June, to assist in veteran programs.
The first Nevada Legislative Tribes Day was coordinated and hosted by the Nevada Indian Commission in April 2011, and approved during the session in 2013, making the second Tuesday of every session. ❂