Air Force leaders, local Native Americans discuss future of NTTR

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Jeremy Wentworth
  • 57th WG/PA

Commanders from the 99th Air Base Wing and the 432nd Wing, as well as officials from the Nevada Test and Training Range (NTTR) met with representatives of 17 Native American tribes Nov. 14- Nov. 16 to continue discussions about cultural considerations on the NTTR.

To make sure everyone was represented, Nellis Air Force Base started a Native American program 23 years ago to increase understanding between base leadership and the indigenous people.

“This is to promote understanding, create dialogue and understand the cultures and where we are both coming from,” said Lt. Col. Christopher Wedewer, 99th Civil Engineer Squadron commander.

The NTTR contains 2.9 million acres of land used for training and research. It is also home to the culture of indigenous American people and local wildlife. Therefore, Nellis and Creech leadership work to find ways to meet mission requirements while protecting the land and preserving endangered wildlife.

This specific meeting had discussions of future archeological projects on the NTTR as well as the health of the wildlife with a focus on Big Horn Sheep, which are sacred for some of the local tribes.

Richard Arnold, Nellis AFB Native American Program coordinator, led the meetings and introduced the base commanders of both Nellis and Creech AFB as they listened to concerns and discussed the common issues they have encountered over the years.

In an exchange between base leadership and representatives of the tribes, Native American chair members were invited to the friends and family day of the Aviation Nation 2019 air show the following day. After sharing Air Force culture, the Native American chair members returned the favor by hosting the military at the Museum of the Lost City in Overton, Nevada. During this event, local Native Americans performed traditional dances and songs, giving a unique look at some of their culture and history.

These ongoing exchanges are one of the ways the Air Force furthers preservation of culturally and historically significant sites while finding ways to continue to meet national security demands.