I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Congressman Joe Heck, Nevada State Assemblyman Cresent Hardy, Nevada State Senator Joe Hardy, members of the community and a special interest group to discuss Gold Butte politics. Most of the faces were the familiar and the agenda was the standard affair. Despite the repetitive nature of these meetings there is one part that I always look forward to, the introductions. This is when we go around the table and state our name and for many, it is a time to recite their genealogical connection to Gold Butte. I love this because it exhibits the pride and sense of community that locals take in Gold Butte.
Some, at the table roll their eyes, as locals relate stories about trips out with their grandpa or get lost counting how many great-greats it was when their family first came into this country. These stories are told not to elevate the local status above the group or suppose that our opinion is more valid for this single reason. Members of the community who have long standing lineage at Gold Butte understand that we are not entitled to anything more than anyone else because we have seniority. What we are is proud of our heritage and the lessons and love that have been passed down through the generations for the piece of God’s country called Gold Butte. It is that love that makes us passionate and protective of Gold Butte.
The politics in regards to Gold Butte, best described as a distraction, are often oversimplified to access versus protection. With this over simplification it is easy to pose legislation as the simple solution. This is a detriment to Gold Butte and plays handily into a narrow agenda. The reality is that there are specific projects that can be done to help improve the visitor experience and protect the cultural resources that don’t require legislative action. Quite simply none of the projects that need to be done at Gold Butte need congressional action. They can and are being accomplished on a community level with the local managing agency partnered with the community. If we look to ourselves instead of Washington for answers we will find them. The very people sitting around the table who take pride and ownership of Gold Butte will be the solution to a sustainable Gold Butte.
The question was posed, I don’t know if we can always count on that level of commitment by the community. I handily disagree with that statement as I am proudly raising five children who are learning the same love and appreciation for Gold Butte as my parents and grandparents taught me and I know many other parents doing the same. In response I asked, where are you going to place your bet, your children or the federal government to save Gold Butte?
Who better to have as the active stewards of Gold Butte than those who have watched generations in their family care for this piece of country out of love, as opposed to politics? We know that it’s not a locals only spot anymore, regrettable nevertheless reality, however we also have a deep knowledge and understanding of the area and a desire to maintain the place we have loved and lived so that we may pass it on to our children. It is the partnerships between the managing agencies and an engaged community that will save Gold Butte for the next generation, not legislation.