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This Week's Program
March 22, 2017 Program: Arlan D. Melendez, Reno-Sparks Indian Colony Chairman
Arlan D. Melendez is the chairman of the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony, a position he has held for over 25 years. His uninterrupted leadership is unprecedented in Indian Country, as are his appointments to federal, state and tribal government posts.
 
A U.S. Armed Forces veteran, Melendez served in the U.S. Marine Corps during the Vietnam Era and is a Selective Service local board member. He graduated from Truckee Meadows Community College and attended the University of Nevada.
First elected to the Tribal Council in 1987, Melendez has served as treasurer and vice-chairman of his tribe. Under his direction, the Colony has maintained a strong and fiscally sound government and has become a very progressive tribe. The RSIC has taken advantage of its strategic location within a metropolitan area to create a viable economic tax base which has allowed the tribe to purchase land and attract business development to the reservation.
 
Under Chairman Melendez’s leadership, the RSIC has partnered with the State of Nevada, Washoe County, the cities of Reno and Sparks, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs to put 108 acres into Trust Land. This remarkable collaboration has expanded the RSIC’s total land base to over 2,000 acres.
 
The RSIC was established in the early 1900’s and formed a federally recognized government in 1935 under the Indian Reorganization Act. Located in Reno, Nev., the RSIC consists of over 1,000 members from three Great Basin Tribes – the Paiute, the Shoshone and the Washo. The reservation lands consist of the original 28 acre residential Colony located in central west Reno and another 1,920 acres in Hungry Valley, which is 19 miles north of the Colony and west of Spanish Springs, Nev., nestled in scenic Eagle Canyon.
 
Nationally, in 2005, Melendez was appointed to a six-year-term on the United States Commission on Civil Rights by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid. Established as an independent, bipartisan, fact-finding federal agency, the Civil Rights Commission’s mission is to champion the development of national civil rights policy and enhance enforcement of federal civil rights laws. This body plays a vital role in advancing civil rights for all Americans.
 
Just this year, Chairman Melendez was given two life-time achievement awards. The Native American Finance Officers Association (NAFOA) and the National Indian Health Board (NIHB) will each publically honor Chairman Melendez for his significant contributions to their respective national organizations.
 
In July of 2015, he was appointed to serve as treasurer for the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), is the oldest, largest and most representative American Indian and Alaska Native organization serving the broad interests of tribal governments and communities. Today, he chairs the taxation subcommittee for the NCAI.
 
In 2010, he was appointed by Governor Brian Sandoval to the Nevada Gaming Policy Committee.  Chairman Melendez’s term as a volunteer on the local selective service board will expired in June of 2016, after a 20-year commitment.
 
Though Chairman Melendez works on a number of issues, he has a passion for quality health care and has been a strong advocate and voice on the local and national level for improved health care for Native people.  Of the many accomplishments, the most rewarding is the RSIC’s new health care center, which serves thousands of Native Americans in the Reno-Sparks area.
 
Currently, Chairman Melendez serves on the U.S. Health and Human Services’ National Tribal Advisory Committee (STAC), directed by Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell as well as the Phoenix Area Tribal Health Steering Committee.
 
Today, Chairman Melendez, is a current Board Member of CHIEF, the Christian Hope Indian Eskimo Fellowship, which is a Native Christian outreach organization located in Phoenix. He was also a founding member of the Colony Christian Fellowship Church located on the Reno-Sparks Colony.
 
In addition, Chairman Melendez is the past president of the Inter-Tribal Council of Nevada (ITCN) and has been Western Region Vice-President of NCAI, for three different terms.
 
Chairman Melendez lives on the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony with his wife Joyce. They have four grown children.
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Service Above Self
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