The following is the opinion of Edmund Reymus, the chairman of the Walker River Paiute Tribe.
This letter is in response to a letter authored by Mrs. Sandra Essenpreis and published May 09, 2009, titled “Your Views: A Precedent That Should Not Be Set.” On behalf of the Walker River Paiute Tribe, I would like to respond to the issues raised by Mrs. Essenpreis.
Mrs. Essenpreis’ article raised a number of issues involving actions by the Walker River Paiute Tribe that I believe need to be clarified before her statements are taken as fact. Foremost, the Tribe has sought to gain a larger ownership interest in Walker Lake, but at no time has the Tribe sought to obtain the Township of Walker Lake or any private property rights. The Tribe has sought to place Walker Lake within the Tribe’s Reservation boundaries for many reasons, many of which will benefit the residents of Mineral County and the citizens of Nevada.
To understand Walker Lake’s importance to the Walker River Paiute Tribal people, or Agai Dicutta (trout eaters), it is important to understand the Tribe’s history and spiritual connection to Walker Lake. For thousands of years, the Agai Dicutta have been culturally, traditionally, and spiritually connected to Walker Lake. The Lake provided a rich supply of food for many generations, and also served as a place of healing. The Tribe’s original reservation boundaries included all of Walker Lake and most of Mt. Grant, as well as a major portion of present day town of Hawthorne. Through gradual encroachment, mining, farming and ranching, the Reservation’s boundaries have been reduced significantly. Much of the Reservation’s prime lands were taken away or exchanged for less productive lands.
Today, Walker Lake is dying. The current ownership and management regime for Walker Lake has allowed it to deteriorate to the point that the fishery is expected to die out very soon. The Tribe believes that if the Lake is included within its borders the Tribe will be able to place its numerous resources to work to attempt to restore the Lake. The Tribe has created a Fisheries Department that has diligently worked to maintain, and hopefully restore the Lake’s fishery. The Tribe has worked over the years with Senator Harry Reid who currently has in place a process to secure water rights to help the Lake. These efforts will continue so that one day the Tribe and Mineral County will benefit from a restored Walker Lake. To achieve this goal, the Tribe has sought to work with Mineral County, its Commissioners and its Citizens to ensure that everyone’s interests are protected.
The Tribe has no desire in acquiring the Township of Walker Lake or diminishing the County’s tax base. The Tribe has mentioned that funding will be needed to maintain the Lake and its beaches, but many sources for those funds are still being explored. The Tribe believes that it can work with Mineral County to achieve the goal of saving Walker Lake so that everyone can enjoy its recreational and spiritual attributes. The Tribe cannot save Walker Lake by itself, and neither can Mineral County. However, by working together, we can combine our resources to and work in a cooperative union that will benefit everyone.
Mrs. Essenpreis, I hope this response will alleviate your concerns and the residents of the Township of Walker Lake. The Tribe certainly appreciates the opportunity to work with the residents of Mineral County, the Mineral County Board of Commissioners, the Walker Lake Working Group and other state and federal agencies. Every day, Walker Lake is dying. Let us work together in the spirit of “respect and honor” for saving one of the world’s most treasured creations …. Walker Lake.
Letter: Walker River
Paiute Tribe wants lake back