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Washoe elders to offer blessing at forum

Holly Atchison

While the Secret Service and speech writers prepare for President Clinton’s visit to the Tahoe Summit Saturday, members of the Washoe Tribe in Douglas County have preparations of their own to make.

Two tribe members, JoAnn Martinez and Theresa Jackson, will be doing a traditional blessing at the opening ceremonies.

“Every time we go to Lake Tahoe, we do the blessing,” said Martinez. “We’ll be praying for the president and the vice president and our Lake Tahoe.”

Jackson will say the blessing in the native language of the Washoes and Martinez will translate into English.

Martinez said she is excited and a little nervous about meeting the president.

In addition to the excitement of the blessing, Clinton’s visit Saturday has members of the Washoe Tribe eager to have their concerns addressed.

“I think it’s an opportune time,” said tribe member Elwood Wyatt. “We are pleased to have him come out, and it’s our desire and wish that all our problems can be solved.”

“I’d like to see land acquisition and re-establishment of our original rights,” Wyatt said.

Wyatt said he is concerned about water clarity and pollution, two issues which will be addressed at the Tahoe Summit.

“I think it’s an honor for him to come,” said Martinez. “It isn’t every day you get to see the President of the United States.”

“I just wish he’d have some of our concerns,” Martinez said.

Jackson said she is glad Clinton is coming and hopes he addresses problems with the land, the water and the whole Lake Tahoe area. Jackson also hopes he will help solve some of the problems at the Lake.

The elders and other tribal members spoke of their concerns about the summit Monday at the Dresslerville Senior Citizens Center.

Richard Servilican is hoping Clinton will look at one issue the Washoe tribe has been pushing. According to Servilican, the tribe would like to obtain a piece of land at the Lake where tribe members can camp, swim and fish without having to pay.

Servilican said since the land originally belonged to the tribe, he feels they should have a part of it all to themselves.

“It puts a resentment in my heart not to be allowed to use areas,” Servilican said.

He is also pleased environmental issues are the focus of Clinton’s visit.

“I think that’s real good,” he said. “If they’re trying to save our environment, I say it’s better because we can have places the way God intended. I think we should all try to keep our country clean.”

“I think it’s great that he’s coming,” said Servilican’s wife Florence.

“I hope to see a positive outcome,” Wyatt said.