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OP-Ed from Chairman Len George

As a U.S. Army veteran who served overseas, I understand the importance of military readiness and I am thankful that our military has kept us safe during my lifetime. As Chairman of the Fallon Paiute Shoshone Tribe, I stand with my Tribe in supporting re-authorization of the existing Naval Air Station Fallon, which already occupies 232,000 acres of traditional tribal lands adjacent to our Reservation.
However, we strongly oppose the Navy’s proposal to quadruple the size of Naval Air Station Fallon. The Navy’s proposed expansion would close off all public access to 660,000 additional acres of ancestral tribal lands and wilderness areas, turning these sacred public lands into a bombing range. The Navy also seeks to regulate an additional 300,000+ acres, for a total of nearly 1.2 million acres impacted by the base – not including the airspace that will be invaded. If approved by Congress, the American people would lose access to vast areas of culturally and ecologically significant lands in central Nevada, including mountain ranges, expansive valleys, diverse wetlands, high deserts, important wildlife areas, and precious geothermic and geologic features.
This so-called “modernization” of Naval Air Station Fallon is ill-conceived, premature, and unnecessary. Congress should reject the Navy’s proposed expansion.
Numerous governments and organizations stand with our Tribe in vocally opposing the Navy’s massive land grab. The Inter-Tribal Council of Nevada, the National Congress of American Indians, and the Nevada State Legislature have all adopted resolutions formally opposing the proposed expansion of Naval Air Station Fallon. In addition, local Nevada counties and veterans, conservation, and wildlife organizations have joined the Fallon Paiute Shoshone Tribe in calling on Congress to reject the Navy’s flawed proposal. After all, the U.S. military has fought and is fighting to protect America – not close it off to American citizens.
The Navy recently released a final analysis of the expansion proposal and the hundreds of public comments received regarding the proposal. Those comments reflect that fully 98% of the public opposes the proposal. And yet, the Navy is preparing to charge ahead with its proposal as if the views of 98% of people don’t matter. Furthermore, my Tribe’s consistent and repeated concerns have been ignored.
For more than 10,000 years, regional Tribes have relied on the very lands that the Navy wants to use to expand its bombing practice. When non-Native settlers arrived on our lands, the United States government allowed us to keep only tiny Reservations that we did not choose. Consequently, we continue to utilize our ceded ancestral lands – presently public lands – for religious and cultural activities such as gathering, hunting, ceremonies, and burials. The proposed expansion of Naval Air Station Fallon would destroy our way of life because it would allow the Navy to bomb our burials and other important cultural sites, and deny us access to those areas. Congress would never allow Arlington National Cemetery to be bombed for training exercises or ban the public from going there to pay their respects – our sites deserve the same protection.
The proposed expansion of Naval Air Station Fallon is dangerous and disrespectful. As Fallon Paiute Shoshone people, we know from decades of Navy activities on our traditional lands that the Navy will deny access and destroy sacred sites on any lands Congress authorizes for Navy activities. Despite repeated demands, the Navy has refused to incorporate into its proposal adequate identification and protection of our sacred sites or guaranteed access to our ancestral lands. Given these failures,
Congress should follow the will of the people and reject the Navy’s proposed expansion of Naval Air Station Fallon.
# # #
Len George was elected Chairman of the Fallon Paiute Shoshone Tribe in 2002 and remains in that position. He was raised and lives in Fallon, Nevada, and prides himself in the history of his people, their ways, culture, land and water.


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Caption (L-R, Council Member Tamika Fast Horse, Tribal Secretary Margot Dyer, Mayor Ken Tedford, Chairman Len George and Council Member Ramona Chasingcrow.)

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Click to read the Tribes Opposition to Proposed Fallon Naval Station Expansion


NAS Fallon Modernization Plan Expansion Opposition

Dear Tribal Membership:

I wanted to take this time and share an overview of the Fallon Paiute Shoshone Tribe’s activities and opposition to the Naval Air Station Fallon base expansion.  The Tribe has taken a strong opposition stance with NAS Fallon regarding the proposed activities due to the adverse and detrimental impacts to Fallon Tribal cultural resources.  The Tribe is currently in a holding period waiting for NAS Fallon’s responses to the comments to the Draft Environmental Impact Statement which were submitted to NAS Fallon in February 2019.  The Tribe along with others have been patiently waiting for the Navy responses to the over 3000 comments which responses are expected to be received sometime in September.

As a brief history the United States Navy currently conducts training at Naval Air Station Fallon (NAS Fallon) across an approximately 232,000-acre area.  Approximately 200,000 acres of this area was public land that Congress “withdrew” from public access and transferred to the Navy in 1999 for a twenty-year period, which is set to expire in November 2021. 

            In preparation for the expiration, the Navy has proposed renewal of the withdrawal of the existing base and training area, and withdrawal of an additional 618,727 acres of federal land.  The action will require Congressional approval and if approved the withdrawal could take place in 2020 and likely be for at least twenty years.  In addition, the Navy is proposing to purchase approximately 65,153 acres of private or state-owned land.  In total, the base would expand greatly under the Navy’s proposal, from approximately 232,000 acres to more than 900,000 acres.  The Navy claims that the amount of training would not increase, but that it would be spread out over a much greater area.  The training generally involves use of live munitions from aircraft, including bombs, but also includes ground training. 

The areas proposed for renewal and expansion of land withdrawal include areas encompass the heart of our traditional homelands which include but not limited the Stillwater Range (including Fox Peak), the Clan Alpines, Rawhide Hot Springs, Fairview Mountain, Sand Mountain, and Dixie Valley just to name a few.  The proposed area includes many sacred areas and sensitive hunting and gathering areas used by our people on a daily basis.  The Tribe views the expanded withdrawal of access and associated training as a perpetuation of a long history of the United States damaging the Tribe’s homelands and resources, limiting Tribal members’ access to those areas and destroying the sacred places we depend on. 

            Tribal leadership and staff have carefully monitored the proposal and brought in Tribal legal counsel to assist with the process to prepare for legal action if necessary.  The Tribe has submitted numerous comments and letters throughout the environmental review process and during the limited face to face consultation meetings with the Navy explained the detrimental impacts that the Navy will have on the irreplaceable cultural resources of our Tribe.  The Tribes concerns include but not limited addressing the impacts to our cultural resources which include the loss of access and damage to Tribal sacred sites, failure to rectify past Navy sacred site damage (including but not limited to Fox Peak Mother/Father Stones, Medicine Rock in BRAVO 20, Fairview Mountain), adverse impacts to the protection of our ancestors burials, addressing the health and quality of life impacts from frequent flights over the Reservation, addressing the loss of access to traditional hunting and gathering areas, adverse impacts to endangered species, addressing the increased fire danger and lack of fire remediation from previous NAS Fallon fires, mitigation noxious weed spread, decrease of designated wilderness areas and NAS Fallon’s failure to comply with the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA).   To date the Navy has not performed a cultural resources inventory of the area or provided funding to the Tribe to do so, has been unreceptive to the Tribe’s input, and has not proposed any meaningful changes to protect the interests of the Tribe. 

Since this action requires Congressional approval, the Tribe has raised its concerns with its Congressional representatives and plans to pursue further discussions, with the goal of eliminating/limiting the withdrawal, demand the completion of a cultural resources inventory of the entire project area prior to expansion as mandated by federal law, guaranteeing regular access for Tribal members, and preventing damage to cultural resources.   Elected leaders and staff have repeatedly met with other Tribes, local stakeholders, federal agencies, and the State Historic Preservation Office to raise concerns and seek improvements.

The NAS expansion proposal is nearly universally unpopular.  Many groups across the political spectrum, as well as the Nevada legislature and the counties where withdrawal would occur, have expressed opposition.  Once the Final Environmental Assessment is released the Tribe will review and determine future actions.  It is expected that over the next year, the Tribe will step up these efforts considerably and will inform the membership of changes as they become available.

Respectfully Submitted,

Len George, Chairman

Fallon Paiute Shoshone Tribe


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TERO DEPARTMENT NEWS

TERO Applications

The TERO Department continually accepts applications. If your application is over one (1) year from the date you last submitted, a new application will need to be completed. Please stop by the TERO Office or pick one up, they are located by the front door of the Administration Building.

Training

If you are interested in attending trainings that are outside of the area or need help finding one, please let me know, I am happy to assist. TERO can help with some training costs for Fallon Paiute-Shoshone Tribal Members.

Please call for more information at 775-423-6040

 


 

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