Nellis leaders, tribal reps visit Native American historical site

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Isaiah J. Soliz
  • 57th Wing Public Affairs

Commanders from the 99th Air Base Wing, the 432nd Wing, and the Nevada Test and Training Range (NTTR) met with six tribal representatives for an excursion to a Native American cultural site within the NTTR on March 21, 2021.

Nellis AFB initiated its Native American Program 25 years ago to increase the understanding between base leadership and culturally affiliated tribes. Within Nevada and the surrounding states of California, Utah and Arizona, many tribes maintain strong cultural ties to the NTTR, a 2.9 million-acre area used for Department of Defense training and research.  

The excursion began with a 1.5 mile hike to Pintwater Cave. At the Native American culturally significant site, Richard Arnold, Native American Coordinator to the Nellis Native American Program, shared insight about the ancestral ties Native Americans have to their traditional homelands. Arnold went on to discuss the importance of preserving Native American cultural and historical sites for the future.

Pintwater cave is a large, stratified, dry cave that is located in the southeast corner of the NTTR near Indian Springs, Nevada.

“It’s a culturally significant site for all the tribes,” continued Arnold. “In fact, Southern Paiutes have strong cultural, historic and religious ties to that area.”

The land used by the Department of Defense belonged to Native Americans long before Nellis was established. Many sites within the NTTR are well-preserved and remain sacred to members of those tribes that once inhabited the area.

“Reinforcing our partnerships with the tribes remains a high priority,” said Col. Cameron Dadgar, NTTR commander. “As we enable and support world-class training that only happens at the NTTR, we must continue to be great stewards of the land in close collaboration with our tribal partners.”

The Air Force is committed to strengthening our understanding between Native Americans and military leadership.

“Together we have been able to reinforce our strong partnership with the Air Force by going out and visiting these important sites,” said Arnold. “Doing so with Air Force leadership proved to be a very positive experience.”

These ongoing interactions are one of the many ways the Air Force and Native American Tribes further the preservation of cultural and historical sites while sustaining a delicate balance between the natural and cultural resources and military operations.