On Monday at 4 PM in the Nevada Assembly Natural Resources Committee, lawmakers will be making history.
There will be two hearings on two bills, AJR4 and AB171, which seek to create new protections for the Swamp Cedars. Lawmakers will hear testimony from the Chairman of the Confederated Tribes of the Goshute Reservation, Rupert Steele, and Ely Shoshone Elder Delaine Spilsbury. Many of you may recall that the Swamp Cedars are sacred trees that were at the center of the Las Vegas Pipeline fight. This legislative intent is to seek acknowledgement, grow understanding, and build trust in order to protect a sacred place, Indigenous identity, and important resources.
The Swamp Cedars have long marked a place where Indigenous Peoples gather, celebrate, pray, heal, and share knowledge. It is still used today by Native people who are descendants of the Newe that have lived in Nevada since time immemorial.
The Swamp Cedars are also a site of mourning. The area was home to three massacres of Indigenous Peoples between 1850 and 1900. The Swamp Cedar trees embody the spirits of the lives lost.
As Spilsbury often says: The Swamp Cedars is where we go to visit our relatives.
Protecting the swamp cedars means we are protecting the connection Indigenous Peoples have with their families, their history and their identity as Indigenous Peoples. The legislation ensures that healing can begin and the spiritual and cultural customs associated with Bahsahwahbee can continue.
We are grateful for Assemblyman Howard Watts, who has been working diligently with Native communities to make this opportunity possible. This effort would not have been possible 10 years ago and marks a watershed moment in our history.