Washoe living in Dresslerville say a compromise made by Chairman Serrell Smokey on the Minden siren doesn’t reflect their position.
Dresslerville Community Council Chairman Rueben Vasquez issued a statement on behalf of the community located south of Gardnerville on Monday that moving the time the siren sounds in the evening is not sufficient.
“The Dresslerville Community Council and its constituents within Douglas County do not approve of any compromises in regards to the evening sounding of the Minden siren,” according to the statement.
Under the compromise between Smokey and Minden Town Manager JD Frisby, the siren sounds at 5 p.m. instead of 6 p.m. It has been a year since Smokey sent a letter seeking to have the evening siren silenced.
In the meantime, the Nevada Legislature passed and the governor signed a law requiring any device associated with sundown ordinances to be shut off. The law takes effect on Oct. 1.
According to the council, the siren is a reminder that the Washoe were removed from their homelands by settlers who arrived in Carson Valley.
“The Dresslerville Community would like the evening sounding of the siren to be silenced unless needed for emergencies,” according to the statement.
The community council is seeking acknowledgement from the county and Minden of treatment of the Washoe and the approval of two ordinances requiring them to be out of town.
“While the siren is argued to have no direct connection to the original sundown ordinance adopted by Douglas County as a whole it cannot be ignored that siren has historical connotations to the sundown ordinance through the historical accounts of those who were oppressed by the ordinance,” the statement said.
There was no siren or fire department when the county first approved an ordinance in 1908 ordering Indians out of Gardnerville by sunset.
The ordinance was revised in 1917 to include Minden and set the time at 6:30 p.m. There still wasn't a siren in Minden, but Gardnerville had a siren that could be heard for miles around.
When the Minden volunteer fire department was formed in 1921, it installed its own siren. The Record-Courier reported there was a 6 p.m. siren in 1928.
The ordinances, which were clearly in violation of law and the Constitution, were repealed in 1974 when the county compiled its code.
Dresslerville residents point out that was 20 years after Brown vs. the Board of Education and a decade after the Civil Rights Act was adopted.
According to the statement, the Washoe greeted the arriving settlers peacefully, offering them food.
“However, in the time since, (Washoe) people have been branded as outsiders in our own home as evidenced by both the sundown ordinance, siren and eventually the Steward Indian Boarding School where the principle of ‘kill the Indian but save the man’ embodied the perspective of an entire nation.”
The community council said it would like to establish platforms for the greater community to interact with the Washoe on their terms and break down barriers.