Native American Leader Recognized for Environmental Activism

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Photo Credit: Natalie Hernandez
Photo Credit: Natalie Hernandez

Suzanne Potter

Public News Service

CARSON CITY, Nev. – Just in time for Thanksgiving, the Nevada Indian Commission has honored Native Americans who’ve made a significant contribution to the state. 

This year Nevada’s American Indian Leader of the Year award went to Fawn Douglas, an artist and activist with the Las Vegas Paiute Tribe. Douglas has been a big part of the push to designate Gold Butte as a national monument and now is working to save it in the face of a leaked proposal by the Trump administration to shrink the boundaries.

“We fought long and hard for several years to get that designation,” she says. “And that was the voices of Nevadans. Not only our people but Nevadans as a whole.”

President Trump reportedly is planning to make an announcement about the future of Gold Butte and several other monuments in early December.

One month ago, Douglas delivered a petition – with more than 90,000 signatures – to Sen. Dean Heller’s office asking him to support Gold Butte as is. She also led a series of public meetings on the monument.

Douglas, along with the Native American Student Association at UNLV, pushed for years to have the City of Las Vegas recognize the second Monday in October as Indigenous People’s Day, something that came to pass last month.

“They said that Columbus Day is not an official holiday here in Las Vegas so there’s nothing to replace,” she adds. “But they wanted to recognize the cultural diversity and the indigenous peoples of this area.”

Douglas would like to see the State of Nevada recognize Indigenous People’s Day. A bill to make it happen faltered last session over a proposed compromise to move it to August 9, which is international Indigenous People’s Day.

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