Sen. Harry Reid: Redskins Owner Offered Gifts to Nevada Tribe

Image: Sen. Harry Reid: Redskins Owner Offered Gifts to Nevada Tribe Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder. (Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Friday, 29 Aug 2014 01:19 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who has been arguing that the Washington Redskins' name is racist, claims team owner Dan Snyder tried to give gifts to a Nevada tribe so the Native Americans would support his Redskins brand.

"Redskins is a racist name, and Native Americans believe that," the Nevada Democrat told The Reno Gazette Journal's political reporter Ray Hagar, who blogged about the conversation. "They have tried to buy off some of my Nevada Indians, and they have not been able to do that, giving them trucks and stuff like that."

But Reid said such gifts won't resonate with the Las Vegas Paiute tribe, who he says was to have been the recipient of Snyder's gift.

"The Indians, they understand that this is an issue that deals with them," Reid said. "It is a moral issue with them. And he [Snyder] can hang on for a little while but it is not going to go on forever."

Kristen Orthman, Reid's senior adviser for Nevada media, backed up the senator's claim, saying that "it is the Las Vegas Paiute tribe he was referencing, and they were approached about being given a van by Snyder's group, and they declined the van."

Neither the Redskins nor Snyder have commented on Reid's accusations.

Reid says the Las Vegas Paiutes were offered gifts from Snyder. Other Paiute tribes in Nevada may soon be getting a larger gift in the form of land grants from the federal government, thanks to Reid, a longtime advocate of the Paiutes and other Native Americans.

In June, Reid introduced two Senate bills that would return more than 26,000 acres of federal land to the Moapa Band of Paiutes located 30 miles outside Las Vegas, and to grant another 93,000 acres to seven Northern Nevada tribes, reports The Las Vegas Review-Journal.

The Moapa Band of Paiutes Conveyance Act, and the Nevada Native Nations Land Act were introduced June 17 and went to the full Senate on July 30, just before Congress left for its August break. Amendments were made to the proposed legislation on Tuesday, GovTrack.us reports, but neither have come up for a vote.

Nevada Republican Sen. Dean Heller is a co-sponsor of the Northern Nevada bill, but is still studying the legislation for the Moapa Paiutes.

The acres that would be put into trust for the tribes is currently controlled by the Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Reclamation.

"Land is lifeblood to Native Americans, and this bill provides space for housing, economic development, traditional uses, and cultural protection," Reid said in a statement issued when he introduced the bills."I take the many obligations that the United States has to tribal nations seriously."

The land could be worth a great deal of money for the tribes, reports The Review-Journal. In May, the government gave permission for a new 200-megawatt photo-voltaic facility to be built on tribal land, with the backing of NV Energy.

In addition, in March, the Moapa tribe broke ground on a plant being billed as the first utility-level solar project approved for tribal land. Los Angeles has agreed to buy power from the plant for the next 25 years, signing a deal valued at $1.6 billion.

That project is being built on land the Paiutes received in an 1980 expansion under former President Jimmy Carter, and Moapa Paiute tribal Chairwoman Aletha Tom said the tribe will also pursue solar power construction on the new land, if the laws pass.

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