Indian Commission, Stewart School budgets proceed

A legislative subcommittee in late April gave the first official approval to budgets for the Nevada Indian Commission and Stewart Indian School Living Legacy.

Indian Commission Director Sherry Rupert said the approval process went smoothly. She said her biggest project before this Legislature will come when lawmakers review the $5.5 million worth of work in the Capital Improvement Projects budget proposed by the governor.

That’s the first major step in protecting, restoring and developing the Stewart Indian School complex into a historic site, museum and cultural center.

The CIP includes $4.5 million to create a Cultural Center and a Welcome Center using existing historic stone buildings at the complex, and another $1 million to replace and restore the roof of the gymnasium.

The Indian Commission is budgeted for $596,057 over the coming biennium, about the same for its three staff members as in the previous biennium. The commission is charged with coordinating communications between the tribes in Nevada, state and local governments. It also works to improve the understanding of tribal cultures. The funding is 75 percent General Fund money and 25 percent from room tax revenues collected in the Tourism Development budget.

That panel of Senate Finance and Assembly Ways and Means members recommended approval of the budget the same day the Nevada Senate took up SB83, a bill that increases the scope and powers of the Indian Commission to coordinate intergovernmental programs related to tribal governments, organizations and Indian owned businesses in Nevada.

The legacy project was funded in 2016 to educate the community about the American Indian people and provide information about the school, which was an off-reservation Indian boarding school from 1890 through 1980.

The school and its buildings at the southern border of Carson City are listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Rupert has described it as the most intact Indian school in the nation.

“We want to prove this place is unique, unlike any other,” she said in an earlier interview.

The legacy’s budget for the coming biennium is $331,124.

As part of the budget decisions, lawmakers also approved the addition of a new management analyst position to handle all fiscal transactions for the legacy project and the Indian Commission as well as business for the tourism commission and Nevada Magazine.

Those decisions must still be reviewed and approved by the full finance and ways and means committees. ❂


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