First Nation's Focus September 2019

Page 1

Tribal News of Nevada and the Eastern Sierra | Vol. 3, No. 8

American Indian Culture and History | September 2019



Numu for all of you y

Thanks to Christina Thomas’ vision, UNR launching firstever Paiute language course this fall | PAGE 4




New Executive Director

A Lasting Impact

Basketball Dreams

Stacey Montooth (Walker River Paiute Nation) appointed to lead Nevada Indian Commission

UNR’s Native American Alumni Chapter to be honored as 2019 alumni chapter of the year

Owhyee’s Macee McKinney-Cota (Shoshone-Paiute) primed to shine at Benedictine University Mesa

2 | Saturday, August 24, 2019 | First Nation’s Focus

EVENTS CALENDAR Engage with us: Want to advertise in First Nation’s Focus? Email Bethany Sam at, or give her a call at 775-297-1003. Have questions or ideas about First Nation’s Focus content? Email Kevin MacMillan at, or give him a call at 775-850-2145. Check out First Nation’s Focus online: Want to submit content for an upcoming edition? Email us at with “First Nation’s Focus” in the subject line.

On the cover:

SPECIAL EVENTS Numaga Indian Days Powwow Princess Pageant — 7 p.m. August 29, Hungry Valley Amphitheater, Reno, Nevada. Age groups are 13-17 (Miss Numaga), 7-12 (Junior Miss) and 2-6 (Tiny Tot). Serves as official kickoff to the 2019 Numaga Indian Days Powwow Festival. Go to www. to learn more. 33rd annual Numaga Indian Days Pow Wow — August 30-September 1, Hungry Valley, Reno, Nevada. This free annual event is held over Labor Day weekend and features some of the best Native American dancers, singers and drummers in the country. Plus, more than 25 vendors will sell traditional native foods and stunning handcrafted silverwork, beadwork, baskets and other American Indian art. Contact Toby Stump at 775-470-1100 or Lydia Bonta at 775-842-6388, or go to, for information. Numaga 3-Mile Walk/Run & Warrior Run — August 31, 7:30 a.m., Hungry Valley, Nevada. As part of the Numaga Indian Days Powwow weekend, this annual walk/ run takes place n the streets of Hungry Valley. Registration starts at 7:30 a.m. at the Hungry Valley Amphitheater, with the 7-mile Warrior Run starting at 8 a.m. and the 3-mile walk/run starting at 8:30 a.m. Call Danny Thayer at 775-329-5162, ext. 1918, or Walita Querta at 775-334-0938. Sumunumu Resource Center Job Fairs — September 12 and 26, Sumunumu Resource Center, Fernley, Nevada. The Sumunumu Resource Center will host two SMX hiring events on Sept. 12 and Sept. 26, with both set for 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Earn up to $15.20 an hour. The center is located at 460 W. Main Street, Suite 101, Fernley, Nevada. For information or to set up an appointment, call Staff Management SMX at 775-530-5093. 89th Annual Pinenut Festival — September 19-22, Walker River Paiute Tribe Reservation, Schurz, Nevada. The annual tradition opens Thursday, Sept. 19, with the Pinenut Festival Pageant, and is followed by the annual Halen Show at Pinenut Park on Sept. 20. Saturday, Sept. 21, is packed with events, including a fun run, horseshoes tournament, parade and the annual Cradleboard Contest, among other activities. Powwow grand entries are 1 p.m.

Submit an event: Christina Thomas, a recent graduate of the University of Nevada, Reno who is of Paiute, Shoshone and Hopi descent, was instrumental in helping build the curriculum for UNR’s first-ever Paiute language course, which launches this fall. Read more on Page 4. Photo Courtesy UNR

Publisher Peter Bernhard Content Coordinator Kevin MacMillan Contributing Writers Kaleb M. Roedel Rachel Chavez Justin Zuniga Sales Leader Bethany Sam Graphic Design Lauren Solinger Nevada News Group Editorial Director Adam Trumble

First Nation’s Focus is a product of the Northern Nevada News Group (NNG) and its affiliated media organizations: Nevada Appeal, The Record-Courier, Lahontan Valley News and Northern Nevada Business View. All content is copyrighted September 2019. First Nation’s Focus strives for accuracy and is not responsible if event details or other information changes after publication. Unless otherwise indicated, all photography in this publication is property of Pacific Publishing Co., the parent company of NNG and First Nation’s Focus. 580 Mallory Way, Carson City, NV 89701

Do you have event information to submit for potential publication in a future Community Calendar? Send it to with “First Nation’s Focus” in the subject line. Please note that some events, locations and details are subject to change after publication; some events may also not be free — contact each respective agency for full details.

on Sept. 21 and at 11 a.m. on Sept. 22. Contact Ruby Valdes at 775-773-2306 with vendor questions.

RECURRING EVENTS Paiute Language Class — 6-8 p.m., Tuesdays, Wadsworth Community Building, 320 Pyramid St., Wadsworth. Yoga — 12:10-12:50 p.m., Tuesdays, Reno-Sparks Indian Colony Tribal Health Clinic, 1715 Kuenzli St., Reno. Registration isn’t required and all levels are welcome. Substance Abuse Support Group — 6-7 p.m., Tuesdays, Sumunumu Resource Center, 460 W. Main St., Fernley. Topics discussed include narcotics abuse, alcohol abuse and anger management. Elder Aquacise — 10-11 a.m. Tuesdays, Reno-Sparks Indian Colony Gym, 34 Reservation Road, Reno. Line Dancing — 5:15-6:15 p.m., Tuesdays and Thursdays, Reno-Sparks Indian Colony Tribal Health Clinic, 1715 Kuenzli St., Reno. Call Vanessa at 775-329-5162, ext. 1946. Women’s Circle Craft Night and Potluck — 5-6:30 p.m., Wednesdays, Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe, 101 Big Bend Ranch Road, Wadsworth. Language Classes for Seniors — 1:30-2:30 p.m. Wednesdays. Reno-Sparks Indian Colony Senior Center, 34 Reservation Road, Building F. Victim Services Program Women’s Advisory Committee — 5-6:30 p.m., second Wednesday of the month, Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe, 101 Big Bend Ranch Road, Wadsworth. Scrapbooking for Beginners — 5-6:30 p.m., first Wednesday of the month, Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe, 101 Big Bend Ranch Road, Wadsworth. Call 775-575-9444. Teen Dating Violence Support Group — 5:45-6:30 p.m., third Wednesday of the month, Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe, 101 Big Bend Ranch Road, Wadsworth. Suicide Prevention Network – Suicide Loss Support Group — 6-7:30 p.m. every first Thursday of the month, 1625 Highway 88, Suite 203, Minden. For information, call 775-783-1510. Weekly Teen Parenting Class — 6-7:30 p.m., Thursdays, Sumunumu Resource Center, 460 W. Main St., Fernley. Nuumu Yadoha Language Classes — 5:30-6:30 p.m., Thursdays. Sponsored by the Bishop Paiute Tribe, the classes are held weekly. Contact the tribal office for location and other details: 760-873-3584. Art Classes —10-11 a.m. Fridays, Reno-Sparks Indian Colony Tribal Health Clinic, 1715 Kuenzli St., Reno. Talking Circle — 5:30-6:30 p.m., second Friday of the month, Paiute-Shoshone Cultural Center, 2300 W. Line St., Bishop, Calif. Sexual Assault Support Group — 5-6:30 p.m., fourth Friday of the month, 101 Big Bend Ranch Road, Wadsworth. Freedom to Be You — 1-2 p.m., Saturdays, 101 Big Bend Ranch Road, Wadsworth. The women’s educational support group meets weekly to discuss a different topic each session. Childcare is available on site.

Stacey Montooth (Walker River Paiute) to head up Nevada Indian Commission

First Nation’s Focus

Gov. Steve Sisolak announced Aug. 6 that Stacey Montooth will be the new executive director of the Nevada Indian Commission. Montooth, a member of the Walker River Paiute Nation who works currently as Public Relations and Community Information Officer for the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony, will start her new role Sept. 1 in Carson City. “Stacey … has extensive experience in tribal relations in Nevada and understands first-hand the multitude of issues, including health services and K-12 education, facing the 27 tribes in our state,” Sisolak said in a statement. “I am grateful for her past outstanding work in Nevada and look forward to her continued service to the Native American community.” Montooth will replace longtime

Nevada Indian Commission leader Sherry Rupert, who resigned earlier this year to become director of the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association. According to a state of Nevada press release, Montooth, in her role the past six years with the RSIC, has served as a crucial liaison for press inquiries as well as legislation involving key tribal issues, including health care and taxation. “The opportunity to work for all 27 Nevada Tribes has always been my dream, yet the change is not easy because there are so many dedicated, good people here,” Montooth wrote in an email to the RSIC community. “However, I’ll be just 45 minutes down the road, and I am confident our paths will remain connected.” Previously, from 2009-2013, Montooth served as the Indian Education Liaison for the Churchill County

Stacey Montooth grew up in Fallon and graduated from Churchill County High School in 1984. Courtesy Photo

School District. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri. She also holds several communications certifications, including the Advanced Public Information Office Endorsement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. O

First Nation’s Focus

Opinion: Natives must count in the 2020 Census Catherine Cortez Masto

Special to First Nation’s Focus


n 2010, the United States conducted its once-a-decade census, as required by the Constitution. That census missed nearly 5% of the Native American population of the country — one in twenty people in native communities simply did not count. We can’t let that happen again. The Constitution says the census has to enumerate every person living in the United States, including children. This count serves many purposes. Most essentially, it determines the total number of representatives that each state will have in the U.S. House of Representatives. States also rely on census figures to determine the boundaries of voting districts for federal, state, and local elections. Just as importantly, census data determines how the federal government distributes money from various federal programs. In 2015 alone, the federal government used 2010 Census data to direct $6 billion dollars to the state of Nevada. The government needs accurate figures to award Nevada its fair share of funds for health care, housing, nutrition assistance, education, child care, and much more. Studies suggest that every uncounted person could cost state, local, and tribal governments up to $3,000 in these lost funds. But private groups also use census information. Businesses use it to locate new customers or improve services for old ones. And scientists rely on it to protect public health. For these reasons, it’s vital that we accurately count Native Americans, who were by far the most underrepresented group in the

last census. There are many reasons for the undercount of native and tribal populations. For some people, language barriers or literacy issues make it hard to fully answer census questions. Another major problem is geography. Many tribal lands are in remote places, with poor or unpaved roads. Often, addresses don’t have the house number and street name format that suburban homes do — instead, they may be highway or route numbers paired with box numbers. Homelessness or frequently changing residence in the Native American community is also a factor. And for urban Indian populations, apartment living can also present a problem — it’s easier to count people living in single-family homes than the multiple families living in apartment buildings, which is one of the reasons that affluent whites are actually overrepresented in census tallies. Internet access and the digital divide are also a factor. Rural and tribal areas often lack high speed internet access, which means that one of the main methods the current census offers to reach individuals could be hard for Native Americans to use. (The 2020 Census, which begins in March of next year, will also use mailed forms, telephone, and in-person census-takers.) Finally, the average age of Native American communities could play a part. The census traditionally undercounts children, possibly because families don’t always realize that children ought to be included. Communities with more children, therefore, are more likely to be undercounted. That’s why, here in Nevada, we need to go the extra mile to make sure every single person in the state gets counted in the census.

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Fallon PaiuteShoshone Tribe gets $1.2 million grant First Nation’s Focus

Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto

Governor Steve Sisolak has set aside $5 million dollars to fund Nevada’s Complete Count Committee, which is working with government and other groups to reach out to everyone in the Silver State and encourage them to be part of the 2020 Census. I know you’ll be hearing much more about these efforts in the coming months. I also want to personally encourage everyone in Nevada to help us count the people in your household, your neighbors, and your friends. I’m going to do everything in my power to ensure that we follow the Constitution’s requirement, so that Nevadans get the voice in politics and the funds that our communities deserve. O U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) submitted this opinion column to First Nation’s Focus for publication. Go to to learn more and to contact the senator.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Development agency announced Aug. 6 that a $1,283,000 million grant has been awarded the Fallon Paiute-Shoshone Tribe. According to a joint news release provided by U.S. Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., and Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., the grant will provide “important water treatment and infrastructure improvements.” “Water is our most valuable natural resource, and the conservation and effective delivery of clean water is of vital importance, especially for tribal communities like the Fallon Paiute-Shoshone Tribe,” the senators said in a joint statement. “We’ll continue to work with all federal agencies to ensure rural and tribal populations not only have safe drinking water, but also have the modern water infrastructure they need to bolster their economies and grow their communities.” According to the news release, the investment will be used to expand the Fallon Paiute-Shoshone Tribe’s current sewer water treatment facility by building a new wastewater treatment lagoon. “The grant will also provide for needed repairs to the current lift stations used for the sewer system,” according to the release. “It will protect the environment and the health of the 600 on-reservation tribal residents.” O


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UNR offers first-ever Paiute language course Goal is to preserve, revitalize the Great Basin indigenous language of Numu Natalie Fry

Special to First Nation’s Focus


alph Burns takes on a number of titles, including Pyramid Lake Paiute elder, storyteller and native-language specialist. This fall, he will add University of Nevada, Reno lecturer to the list. Christina Thomas is a recent University graduate in music and biology, mom, former Washoe County School District teacher, experienced server, performing artist and most notably, a self-titled “language warrior.” She began as a youth Paiute language instructor in 2015, replacing Burns as a language teacher at Reed High School in Sparks, and then later took an independent study course from Burns at the University. Often singing and dancing at events together, their mentor/ mentee relationship has deepened

through the years, and this year, also together, they helped create and launch the first-ever Paiute language course to be taught at the University. Thomas begins her master’s of arts program in Native American Studies at the University of California, Davis this fall, with potential plans to return to the region and continue teaching and preserving the Paiute language and culture after graduate school. “This course continues the opportunities for language learning for students who take Paiute in high school and introduces people who might not be familiar with Nevada indigenous languages to the culture and history of the land on which the University stands,” Thomas said. “I am proud to be considered a ‘language warrior’ and hope, through this class, others will also become language warriors along the way.” Burns currently teaches language courses at the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony and will embark on a new journey this fall, teaching college students on campus. A written form of Northern Paiute was developed by Burns and Cathrine Fowler, a

Editor’s Note

This article first published on the University of Nevada, Reno’s news website, Nevada Today, on Aug. 8, and is reprinted here with permission. Go to to read the original version, where you can also view a video story about the importance of the Paiute language to Northern Nevada.

University of Nevada, Reno President Marc Johnson and recent alumna Christina Thomas celebrate the American Indian & Alaska Native Graduate Celebration in May 2019. Photo Courtesy UNR

linguist at the University, years prior. They also produced learning materials for Northern Paiute, which will be incorporated in the new Paiute language course. The goal of the First Year Northern Paiute I course is to develop speaking, listening, reading and writing skills in the language, as well as to develop a deeper understanding of Numu cultural contexts. The course is scheduled for the Fall 2019 semester from 5:30-7:20 p.m., Monday and Wednesday evenings. “We are excited to offer Northern Paiute for the first time,” World Languages and Literatures Chair Casilde Isabelli said. “Through the

experiences and teaching from an elder of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe, students will gain a better understanding and appreciation for the indigenous culture and history of our region.” Upon completion of this course, students will be able to: ■ Identify the Northern Paiute orthography and write basic sentences. ■ Produce basic linguistic structures of Northern Paiute, including sentence structure, agreement, basic verb tenses, and basic prepositional phrases. ■ Identify and describe the local Northern Paiute culture and its connection to the language, including

connections to place and the Great Basin, traditional activities, kinship, and foods. ■ Produce basic sentences in Northern Paiute, including introductions of self and others, describing their families and relationships. ■ Comprehend spoken language in Northern Paiute and respond appropriately. ■ Read and understand short traditional narratives. ■ Compare U.S. and Northern Paiute cultures in regards to daily life, traditions, kinship, and foods. O Natalie Fry is a Senior Communications Specialist for the University of Nevada, Reno.

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| Saturday, August 24, 2019 | 5

‘We want to stay connected’ UNR’s Native American Alumni Chapter named alumni chapter of the year Kaleb M. Roedel First Nation’s Focus


or the past five years, the University of Nevada, Reno Native American Alumni Chapter has been working especially hard to strengthen its relationships with Native students, past and present, and the Native community as a whole. And their hard work is being noticed more than ever. In fact, next month, the UNR Native American Alumni Chapter will receive the Nevada Alumni Association’s Chapter of the Year Award. The chapter will be given the honor at UNR’s Homecoming Gala on Sept. 27. Its members will also be recognized on Sept. 28 during the Nevada football team’s homecoming game against Hawaii. The honor will be the first time the UNR Native American Alumni Chapter, which was established in early 1990, has won the chapter of the year award, according to its current members. “It was exciting to be recognized both by the university, and to showcase what we do for our communities and for the university,” said Kathleen Wright-Bryan, treasurer of the chapter. A major piece of the UNR Native American Alumni Chapter’s impact comes in the form of events it puts on for the community. The events are aimed at sharing the American Indian culture and heritage on the University campus through traditional events and athletic activities. This includes the chapter’s biggest event: the Mr. & Miss University of Nevada, Reno Powwow. The annual event, which will be held at 11 a.m. on Aug. 24 at UNR’s Knowledge Center Lawn, is for children ages 3-18, said chapter president Stephanie Wyatt, noting that they spend “all year” planning the event. Prior to the powwow is a pageant on Aug. 23 at 5:30 p.m. at the UNR Davidson Mathematics Science Center. “The focus of that is to bring youth on campus,” Wyatt said “We want them to be involved and continue their (Native) education; to

come to campus with their families and experience interactions, whether it’s a sporting event or with students, faculty and staff.” Wyatt added that the university’s Native American Student Organization, The Center, and Residential Life, Housing and Food Service are event partners of the powwow. Another sizable event the group co-sponsors with The Center is a graduation celebration in the spring. Specifically, the event recognizes Native American and Alaska Native students who have graduated in the spring or the previous fall. “Every year that increases in attendance,” Wright-Bryan said. “We just want a Native American presence on campus, and I feel that a lot of our events give the university that.” Notably, the group provides two scholarships per year worth $1,000 to Native students — one designated for an incoming freshman and the other for a transfer or returning student. Two years ago, through increased fundraising efforts, the chapter was able to raise the scholarships by $500 per student. Wyatt said one goal the chapter has for the future is to provide at least one more scholarship to a Native

student. Wright-Bryan also pointed out that the chapter even held a Native American Recognition Day during the last two Nevada softball seasons to recognize pitcher Kali Sargent of the Washoe Tribe. Sargent capped her Wolf Pack career in May. In addition, the chapter holds does everything from holding networking events for alumni to hosting holiday parties to attending Wolf Pack football games together. The group even holds “mystery bus trips” — a chartered bus shuttles chapter members and their friends to designated Northern Nevada spots for dinner and drinks. “I think that one of the main reasons why our group is really active is because we want to stay connected to the university after we graduated,” Wright-Bryan said. Such was the case for Alicia Reyes, a 2018 graduate who has been a member of the UNR Native American Alumni Chapter for roughly a year. A member of the Native American Student Organization as an undergrad, Reyes saw firsthand how deeply involved the alumni chapter is in the Native community on- and off-campus. Simply put, Reyes wanted

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The University of Nevada, Reno Native American Alumni Chapter. Pictured, left to right, front row: Stephanie Wyatt (president), Brian Wadsworth (vice president membership), Kathleen Wright-Bryan (treasurer), Chelsea O’Daye (vice president special projects) and Alicia Reyes (secretary). Back row: Loni Romo (member at large) and Markie Wilder (member at large). Photo: Bucky Harjo

to remain woven in the UNR Native fabric. A fabric that, thanks to the alumni chapter of the year, seems to be growing stronger each

year. “It was another group that I always felt involved with,” Reyes said of the UNR Native American

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6 | Saturday, August 24, 2019 | First Nation’s Focus

‘A NEW CHAPTER IN MY LIFE’ Owhyee’s Macee McKinney-Cota (Shoshone-Paiute) primed to shine at Benedictine University Mesa

Kaleb M. Roedel | First Nation’s Focus


n 2005, a 3-year-old ball of energy named Macee first picked up a basketball on the Duck Valley Indian Reservation in Owyhee, a dot of a town tucked in northeastern Nevada near the Idaho border. Not much bigger than the orange sphere cradled in her hands, Macee was getting her first taste of competition during a local youth tournament. Fifteen years later, that young Shoshone-Paiute girl, Macee McKinney-Cota, has yet to put the basketball down. The only difference: The soon-to-be 18-year-old is no longer starring on courts in the Silver State. She’s now on the hardwoods of Arizona, putting in preseason work for the Benedictine University at Mesa women’s basketball team. “I’m sad to leave home, but there are greater things outside of the reservation that will help me,” McKinney-Cota said in a phone interview with First Nation’s Focus. “It’s a new start, a new chapter in my life, and I’ve been preparing for it.”


Indeed, playing college basketball is a dream McKinney-Cota began reaching for since her freshman season at Owyhee. Playing point guard, McKinney-Cota averaged 10 points and two assists in her debut for the Braves. What’s more, the standout freshman helped lead Owyhee to the 2016 state championship, scoring 12 points in a 61-54 wins over rival McDermitt. “It really just opened my eyes to how much I could accomplish and do as long as I put my heart and mind into it,” McKinney-Cota said. “My freshman year is when I decided I wanted to take further steps in pursuing basketball and my education after high school.” It showed. A year later, as a sophomore, McKinney-Cota poured in 19.5 points per game and dished out 2.6 assists a night, helping steer the Braves to their second straight state title. Despite being a two-time state champ after two years in high school, McKinney-Cota wasn’t satisfied. From dribbling outside of her house at all hours of the day to playing in offseason tournaments with older women from her tribe, the Owyhee could almost always be found with a basketball in her hands. Just ask her mother, Terri Ann Cota. “We live off of a dirt road and at the end of it is pavement,” Ann Cota told

First Nation’s Focus. “This girl, during the offseason, even during the summers, you’d find her down there, running and dribbling. She did that as young as I can remember, practicing her skills. She’s a pretty dedicated young lady.” As a junior, McKinney-Cota, already an explosive scorer, had a breakout defensive campaign. Though often the smallest player on the court, she averaged 7.1 rebounds per game, which ranked fifth in the league, to go along with 1.9 steals. Additionally, she continued to be a handful for opposing defenses, posting 18.6 points and 2.6 assists an outing. Her sophomore and junior outings earned the point guard consecutive all-league first-team selections. Moreover, she garnered the attention of a few college basketball teams, including Benedictine University at Mesa, which competes in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). After one visit to BenU’s campus, McKinney-Cota was sold. “The first time I went there I just loved it,” she said. “Not only because of the town of Mesa, which is right by Phoenix, but the team and the coaches were really helpful there, too. They really liked my attitude on and off the court. “I got to practice with them and watch one of their games. Their style of play is like how I like to play — it’s really fast-paced.”

TOP: Macee McKinney-Cota rises for a running jumper during her senior season at Owyhee Combined School. BOTTOM: Macee McKinney-Cota will play for the Benedictine University at Mesa women’s basketball team this fall. Courtesy photos

McKinney made her decision to attend BenU official in December 2018 when she signed a national letter of intent to play for the Redhawks. “I am completely excited,” said


First Nation’s Focus

Owyhee’s Hunter Smartt takes state hoops title


From page 6

McKinney-Cota, who plans to study psychology while at BenU. Adding to her excitement: McKinney-Cota’s former teammate and cousin, Kaylani Smartt, a 2018 Owyhee graduate, is a rising sophomore on the team. Smartt appeared in one game as a freshman for the Lady Redhawks, who finished with a 10-13 overall record and a 6-8 mark in the California Pacific Conference last year. “We’ve been playing basketball since elementary school,” McKinney-Cota said of Smartt. “We always talked about wanting to win a state title for high school. But, I don’t think we ever thought we’d be going to college still playing basketball.”


Quite simply, prior to turning the heads of BenU’s coaches, McKinney-Cota didn’t think play college basketball was an option. Growing up on the Duck Valley Indian Reservation, which population hovers around 1,000, McKinney-Cota was accustomed to being part of a small Native community amid family and friends. It was a comfort zone she saw many people stay settled in through college and beyond. In fact, outside of her elder cousin, Smartt, she had never heard of anybody from her Shoshone-Paiute Tribe playing basketball after high school. “The reservation really kind of humbled me, especially as I started getting older,” she said. “It just shaped me to really focus on myself and believe in myself whether people believe in you or not. Because it doesn’t matter what others think of you — it’s just what you think of yourself and how you want to be better for yourself.” All the while, she received heaps of support and encouragement from her family members, none more

| Saturday, August 24, 2019 | 7

Special to First Nation’s Focus

Macee McKinney-Cota shoots a corner 3-pointer during her senior season at Owyhee. Courtesy photo

than her mother, Terri Ann Cota, her father, Manfred McKinney, and brother, Chance McKinney. “Not a lot of kids have a good support system at home, so my family is really encouraging both on my mom and my dad’s side,” she said. Added Teri Ann Cota: “She’s had a lot of good influences in her life, so I’m hoping that she does well (in college).” McKinney-Cota is already planning to give back to her hometown and be a positive influence for young girls like she once was — even the 3-year-old balls of energy hitting the court for the first time. Following her freshman year at BenU, the former Owyhee Brave said she plans to hold a youth basketball camp next summer. “I know I need to have more experience to do better as a role model,” she said. “Because a lot of the younger kids, they’re always like, ‘Macee! Macee! Macee!’ And they always want to play basketball with me. Even though they’re really young, I always still help them out and encourage them.” O

Art in the Yurt Antiques & Native Crafts Paintings by Carlos Warner Ceramics by Eric Woods

Photography by Vivian Olds

Desert Light Arts Painting by Carlos Warner


LEFT: Hunter Smartt holds many of the awards he’s won so far in his short basketball career. RIGHT: Hunter holds his free throw trophy with his grandfather, Raymond “Parker” Smartt. Photos: Terajean Whiterock

Smartt for his achievement, saying it was “a great honor for a hardworking young man.” En route to winning the state title earlier this year, Smartt won two gold trophies, one medal, two jackets with patches, two basketballs, a movie ticket and $250, according to an email from Hilderbrand. Smartt, who will be a fifth-grader this coming school year at Owyhee, wanted to enter the hoop shoot contest and said, “I couldn’t play basketball since I injured my knee and I

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wanted to keep in practice shooting. I think my parents are proud and happy for me.” Smartt’s success this year comes more than 30 years after Owyhee’s Michelle Jim was an Elks Hoop Shoot finalist in 1987, Hilderbrand said. Smartt said he is grateful for the opportunities he’s had so far in his young basketball career. “I want to thank my parents for getting me into the hoop shoot and for taking me to the competitions.” O

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Owyhee Combined School student Hunter Smartt is forging his own basketball path. Earlier this year, he became the Nevada State Champion in the boys’ 8-9 age bracket for the Elks Hoop Shoot Competition for 2019. Smartt lives in Owyhee and is a member of the Shoshone-Paiute tribes. His parents are Terajean Whiterock and Lenville Smartt. His sister is Kaylani Smartt, who graduated last year from Owyhee Combined School and went on to play college basketball for Benedictine University at Mesa in Arizona, an NAIA school that competes in the California Pacific Conference. Hunter Smartt began his journey as a fourth-grader last December when he competed in Elko at the Great Basin Elks Lodge #1472 contest. The competition was a no-cost, free-throw-shooting event, and contestants had to register the morning of the competition. He took first place in the boys division, advancing to the district competition in Austin last month, taking another first place. To become state champ, Hunter made 21 of 25 free throws in February in Hawthorne. He moved from there onto the Region 7 finals in Las Vegas in March, where he represented the State of Nevada and faced competitors from four other states. He ended up in third place at the Vegas event, said Myrna D. Hilderbrand, a teacher at Owyhee Combined School, who congratulated

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8 | Saturday, August 24, 2019 | First Nation’s Focus

The Philosophy of Billy Madison Back-to-school principles for students, parents and educators Justin Zuniga

Special to First Nation’s Focus


t’s that time of year again, whether or not we are ready and willing. The 2019-20 school year is upon us. I must confess, this time of year always reminds me of the 1995 Adam Sandler masterpiece, “Billy Madison.” I am so fond of this movie; my colleagues can actually catch me softly singing the “Back to School” jingle popularized by the movie throughout my workday. This simple song has served as a personal mantra, which I believe everyone can identify with. So let’s unpack The Philosophy of Billy Madison together and maybe he will teach you something about yourself. Let me take the liberty of setting the scene… Billy is standing there, waiting for the school bus. He isn’t particularly excited about going back to school, but he knows he has an important mission — he begins to sing: * * *

“Back to school, back-to-school to prove to my dad that I’m not a fool. I’ve got my lunch packed up and boots tied tight, I hope I don’t get in a fight. Oh, back to school, back to school...”

* * * The nervous anticipation mounts as the school bus approaches and our collective hearts break as the bus drives right past him. Doesn’t even slow down. You can hear

children laughing at you … I mean Billy. Billy’s song is true and his struggle is real. We start to gain a deeper understanding of how his simple song can serve as a personal guiding principle by breaking it down into three axioms: ■ 1. Back to school, to prove that I’m not a fool: Potentiality of self-worth. ■ 2. I’ve got my lunch packed up and boots tied tight: Preparedness. ■ 3. I hope I don’t get in a fight: Communication. The first axiom is basically the overarching theme for the entire movie. He has a mission to prove his worth to his father in order to be worthy to receive his inheritance of the family business. His original song lyric uses “Dad” as the accountable motivating agent (and I’m sure many of our kids would agree). However, if we really want to grow in our academics, then a better line to substitute would be “To prove to myself that I’m not a fool.” The beauty of starting a new school year is that it gives us another opportunity to measure ourselves. At this stage of the school year, the potential for learning is very high with lessons of progressively more difficult levels of English Language Arts, Mathematics and Science. But where is your self-worth? Do you see yourself rising to meet the challenge or feeling like you should get placed in different classes? Those who see themselves as having a high potentiality of self-worth understand their limitations, but firmly believe that they could academically perform with the best in their school. You are not the same student/parent/educator that you were last year. You have the potential to be

so much more! The second axiom deals with preparedness and making sure we are ready for whatever the day throws at us. The backto-school season is wrought with anxiety for students, parents and educators alike. Myself, as an educator undergoing academic induced existential dread, I know it is crucial to equip myself mentally and materially to navigate the endless possibilities of a new school year. I don’t want to underestimate the importance of preparedness, especially among the sheer chaos of any secondary education institution. Nevertheless, hearkening back to the first axiom, equally important to your level of preparedness is your confidence in being capable of completing the task. In this way, whether or not you feel prepared for the task ahead, the key is that you know that you’ll give it your best effort and won’t settle for anything less. This leaves communication as the last axiom of Billy Madison’s pedagogy. When he says, “I hope I don’t get in a fight,” I interpret it to mean, “I hope I don’t have to use excessive energy to communicate.” Disclaimer: I don’t condone fighting and settling our differences with violence. However, there is a point, as we advocate wholeheartedly for our students, when it becomes necessary to use strong diplomacy tactics to make sure our students are being taken care of. This either goes for parents advocating for their children’s needs or a teacher advocating for their curriculum against the recommended state standards. To any student facing injustice on their campus: I hope you won’t have to pick that fight.

Justin Zuniga

Nobody is going to grant Billy Madison a Nobel Prize, but what he offers is a recipe for success. If one shows up dripping with confidence, prepared with alternative supporting evidence or the exact tools for the job, plus the willingness to fight for what you believe in, then one is most definitely worthy of the inheritance. O Justin Zuniga works as an RSIC Education Advisor at the Hungry Valley Center in Sparks. Email him at with questions.

Owyhee Community Health Facility •

1036 Idaho State Highway 51, Owyhee County, ID 83604 Clinical Application Coordinator/IT Specialist Responsible for the installation, daily operation, and maintenance including problem resolution for multi-user and personal computer systems. Includes coordination and consultation on all ADP/MIS issues such as office automation, telecommunication and security, including PC user support, Resource Patient Management System (RPMS), Electronic Health Record (EHR), all network connections, servers and necessary data and voice lines. Requires specific related training and experience in support of healthcare IT, preferably with BS degree and experience with RPMS/EHR. Quality Assurance/Risk Manager/Director Serves as Quality Assurance/Accreditation leader. Creates and applies effective quality assurance programs, policies & procedures that promote and support high quality and continuous improvement in OCHF’s complete health care, behavioral health, dental, clinical and administrative support services, consistent with industry and accreditation standards and best practices. Bachelor’s Degree in a health related field and three to five years of experience in quality assurance/improvement, risk management, and/or accreditation such as AAAHC, TJC, etc. preferred. Billing Manager This position is responsible for the direction, administration, planning, supervision and evaluation of the Billing Department. The incumbent will ensure that the Billing Department works in conjunction with the OCHF organization to achieve the organization’s goals and objectives. The function of the Billing Department is to facilitate an efficient billing process, ensure timely billing with revenue resources and keep updated with national policies and billing practices. Associate’s or Bachelor’s Degree preferred, and medical billing and supervisory experience required. Public/Community Health Nurse Relocation Assistance, and Tuition Repayment Available Provides nursing services to individuals, families, groups and the community at large. Nursing interventions are directed towards the goals of prevention, assessment, risk reduction and health improvement. Under the general direction of the Nursing Administrator, utilizes the nursing process to assess and identify community needs, analyze data, plan interventions, implement, and then evaluate the outcome. Provided direct patient nursing care. Supervises another nurse and two nursing assistants. Requires RN, with BSN and/or MPH preferred.

Medical Laboratory Technologist Performs a wide range of clinical laboratory tests per requests by medical staff for use in clinical diagnosis, patient screening, monitoring and other purposes. Includes standardized procedures in accordance with established methodology and protocols. Makes minor adjustments to adapt or modify established guides to specific situations. Coordinates with laboratory consultant and provides periodic reviews for quality assurance. Maintains proper service and calibration of instruments, administers service agreements, and orders supplies. Prepares annual budget and manages to laboratory budget. Communicates well with medical providers, patients and administrators to provide excellent customer service. Maintains knowledge of laboratory standards and best practices. Supervises phlebotomist/lab tech.

Director of Operations Provides leadership, guidance & direction to subordinate program managers and supervisors in planning, development, maintenance, execution and evaluation of personnel and services in the administrative areas such as fiscal management, Billing, Health Information, Clinical Applications, Purchased Referred Care, and Facilities. The incumbent may be assigned special administrative functions and projects as deemed necessary. The DO is ultimately responsible for the administration and implementation of administrative operations within the OCHF in support of providing quality patient care and is a key member of OCHF leadership. Master’s Degree: Public Health, Business Administration or Health Care Finance. 3 years of health care/operations administrative experience. Experience in Quality Assurance & Compliance Management.

Emergency Medical Technician Responding to call from the dispatcher, drives or rides with ambulance to emergency site using most expeditious route and ensuring safety. Positions ambulance in a safe location, performs scene size-up, determines mechanism of injury or illness and number of patients, performing triage and extrication as needed. Calls for additional response, air or ground, if needed. Assessing patient(s)’ status, establishes priority and provides appropriate emergency care; may administer intravenous drugs or fluid replacement as directed by physician. Determines facility and transports patient to higher level of care while continuing care as medically indicated or directed and teaming with partner. Maintains proper condition of ambulance units and EMS department at facility. Engages in continuing professional development. Must have current Nevada EMT and a valid driver’s license.

Registered Nurse or IV Certified LPN The RN incumbent is a member of the health care team, and serves as a clinical RN performing professional nursing duties in the Out-patient Clinic. Under the general direction of the Nursing Administrator, the RN will plan, implement, and evaluate nursing care plans, supervise day to day activities of subordinate staff; and provide for the coordination of services as specified in the patient plan of care. The LPN performs a variety of nursing care tasks involving standardized procedures requiring knowledge and consideration of specific patient conditions and treatments. The incumbent screens and assesses patients prioritizing by established protocols and guidelines. The LPN reports directly to the Nursing Administrator or designee for emergent or high priority cases. The RN or LPN incumbent is competency tested prior to providing direct patient care.

Health Information Manager Manages systems for acquiring, analyzing, and protecting digital and paper medical information vital to providing quality patient care. Ensures patients’ health information and records are complete, accurate, and accessible to responsible patient care staff, and protected for patient privacy. Performs or assists in performing analysis of data for community and population health. Associate’s or Bachelor’s Degree in Health Information Management with supervisory and related experience required, RHIT or RHIA certification preferred or must obtain within one year.


PLEASE INCLUDE: Cover Letter, Salary History and/or Expectations, Resume, ShoPai Tribe’s Application and Copy of Any License/Certification

email: Ph: 208.759.3100 Ext.1224 or 1236 Fx: 888.476.7269

Preference for filling vacancies will be given to qualified Indian Applicants in accordance with Indian Preference Act (Title 25 U.S. Code, Section 472 and 473). However, the Shoshone-Paiute Tribes is an equal opportunity employer and all qualified applicants will be considered in accordance with the provisions of Section 703 (I) of the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended.

First Nation’s Focus

| Saturday, August 24, 2019 | 9

From left, Reno-Sparks Indian Colony Chairman Arlan Melendez, Brian Davis, Larsa Guzman, Kiyla Wadsworth, Kristina Wadsworth, Lylliana Williams, Jacob Stump, Leo Grass, Lead Elder Reynelda James, Pablo Britto, Tiana Marrietta-Goade, Janae Blue-Horse, Angel Zuniga and Michael Acosta. Photo: Bethany Sam

RSIC holds Eagle Feather Ceremony for 2019 graduates Bethany Sam | First Nation’s Focus The Reno-Sparks Indian Colony recently congratulated the colony’s 2019 high school graduates with an Eagle Feather Ceremony, hosted by the RSIC Language & Culture

Program and RSIC Education Department. In our traditional ways, receiving an eagle feather is one of the highest honors a person can have. The eagle feather represents passage of wisdom, honor and esteem.

A person who accepts an eagle feather must realize they have received one of the greatest honors the people can give to show leadership and the spiritual connection — because as we pray with the eagle feather, that eagle takes our prayers

SERVING ALL 27 TRIBES OF NEVADA The Inter-Tribal Council of Nevada, Inc. (ITCN) is incorporated as a non-profit organization under Nevada State Law since February 23, 1966. The Inter-Tribal Council of Nevada, Inc. is a tribal organization that was created by the 27 Tribes and Bands residing in the State of Nevada and the Great Basin Region. The Governing Body of Inter- Tribal Council of Nevada, Inc. consists of an Executive Board composed of Tribal Chairman from each of the Tribes and Bands. The main intent of the Inter-Tribal Council of Nevada, Inc. is to serve as a large political body for Nevada Tribes. ITCN, Inc. has played a major role in promoting Health, Educational, Social, Economic and Job Opportunity Programs. The Inter-Tribal Council of Nevada, Inc. now manages Federal and State funded programs aimed at improving the health and well-being of tribal community members throughout the State of Nevada.

to the Great Spirit (Creator). It’s critical for anyone who keeps an eagle feather to carry and care for it in a sacred way. The RSIC community honored each student this summer for their hard work, dedication and

commitment toward their education with an eagle feather blessed by Lead Elder Reynelda James. It’s wonderful to see young Native people succeeding in life, and we wish them the very best in their future endeavors. O

Inter-Tribal Council of Nevada

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10 | Saturday, August 24, 2019 | First Nation’s Focus


Breastfeeding nourishes the mind, body and spirit Rebecca Chavez

Special to First Nation’s Focus


reastfeeding is more than nourishing babies the way nature intended; breastfeeding nourishes the mind, body and spirit of both mother and baby. Traditionally, breastfeeding was seen as a natural part of being a woman and a mother. When babies were born, they were bundled into slings, moss bags or cradleboards. Women went about their daily lives with their babies strapped securely to their bodies, protecting their little ones from harm while caring and feeding them as needed. Babies developed and grew in an environment of security and love. It was normal for a mother to breastfeed her child for several years. This practice was healthy for both baby and mother: the baby receiving much needed nutrients and immunities from the mother while breastfeeding encouraged pregnancy spacing, allowing a woman’s body time to heal and strengthen

Rebecca Chavez

before becoming pregnant again. Nowadays, we acknowledge these practices as scientifically proven to be true.


According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, babies should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life. Sadly, native mothers have one of the lowest rates of initiating breastfeeding (59%) of any race of ethnicity in the US. Studies also show the native mothers have the highest rate of supplementing their

Even if a woman is unable to successfully breastfeed, this does not mean she has failed. Photo: Shutterstock

babies diet with formula (97%) and will terminate breastfeeding altogether around four months. At the same time, native people face serious health challenges such as diabetes and obesity; challenges that could be avoided by



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breastfeeding and early introduction of healthy eating.

communities and workplaces remain as barriers to breastfeeding.



For many Indigenous women, the belief and tradition of breastfeeding has decreased over generations of historical trauma. Assimilation policies divided families and discouraged or outright outlawed cultural teachings. The boarding school era caused devastating gaps where very little traditional customs were passed on to the next generation. Young women lost contact with female relatives, who taught them the ways of being a woman. Urbanization led to further isolation, poverty and exposure to western diets high in refined sugar and processed foods. Human milk was replaced by processed cow’s milk; an interesting fact considering that about 75% of indigenous people are intolerant to cow’s milk. Even today, lack of resources, late or no prenatal care and continuing lack of support within families,

Although breastfeeding is a natural process, many mothers need help. Breastfeeding takes patience and practice. For some women learning how to breastfeed can be uncomfortable, painful and/or frustrating. If a baby is born too early or if the mother has health problems, breast-feeding can be difficult. Under the Affordable Care Act, more women have access for free lactation support. If you are experiencing difficulty with breastfeeding: ■ Other breastfeeding mothers can be a great source of support. Ask family or friends who have experience at breastfeeding for help. ■ Ask your doctor or midwife to suggest a support group. Some hospitals, OB and pediatric practices have a lactation consultant on staff who lead regular support group meetings ■ Ask your doctor or

midwife for help finding a peer counselor. A peer counselor is someone who has breastfed her own baby and can help other mothers breastfeed successfully. ■ Search the internet for a breastfeeding center near you. Check if the hospital you delivered your baby at has a breastfeeding center. ■ Local resources include: WIC, nevadawic. org; and La Leche League, northernnevada Even if a woman is unable to successfully breastfeed, this does not mean she has failed. So long as there is skin-to-skin contact during feeding, the joyful closeness and bonding her baby needs can still be achieved. Talking to her baby, humming, singing and making eye contact are important in development and nurturing feelings of trust and security. O Rebecca Chavez (Western Shoshone) is a certified nurse-midwife, women’s healthcare provider and a mother of two. If you have any questions or ideas for future topics, email her at


• Provides ideal nutrition • Breast milk contains important antibodies • Reduces disease and infection risks for baby

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First Nation’s Focus

| Saturday, August 24, 2019 | 11


Sharing stories, advice and knowledge Bethany Sam

First Nation’s Focus


ne of the greatest lessons a child can learn is to honor his or her Elders. Our Elders have paid attention, gained knowledge and wisdom from life. During their childhood, they carefully watched and listened to ceremonies and traditions, and paid attention to the way their elders in their communities behaved. Our Elders are libraries of knowledge, wisdom, understanding, history and tradition. Learning and receiving advice from our Wisdom Keepers, Elders, is a priceless gift. Our Native American/American Indian Elders and Ancestors persevered & prevailed through the toughest, roughest times in our history, so we, the younger generations, can live the way we do today. Go back in time, 100 years or less or more. Imagine not being able to powwow and wear your regalia. Imagine secretively praying to Creator and speaking your traditional language in fear that you might be killed or imprisoned for doing so. Imagine being forcibly removed from your family/ community to attend Indian Boarding Schools to learn a new language, religion, and way of life. Imagine drinking from a segregated water fountain that was specified for “Indians Only.” Imagine not being able to eat at a restaurant. Imagine running from the Calvary for your life, starving, having no rights until 1924, etc. Our elders and ancestors endured, fought and survived for our future. They deserve to be respected and honored. Read words of Wisdom from local Native American elders:

LINDA EBEN-JONES Tribal Affiliation: Paiute From: Reno-Sparks Indian Colony Age: 70 Parents: Marlene Moose from Fallon, NV & Tellivan Eben from Fort Bidwell, CA Grandparents: Howard Moose (FPST) from Fallon, NV & Dollie Davis Moose from Yerington, NV. What have you been taught about respecting/ listening to your elders? My grandparents taught me to be respectful to elders by showing me to acknowledge them and be patient with elders, to listen and learn as much as we can from them. Stories or advice you’d like to share with the youth? Learn indigenous knowledge (our own stories) because our school system only teaches western (non-native) knowledge! Here’s a story: During my working career, I was hired for a summer tribal program in Arizona to teach the students about how to sew a quilt. But as we started the class there were some students who were very distracting. We agreed to make a banner instead and talked about the history of their tribe. One boy said, why do we always talk about old stuff that happened long ago, I don’t want to talk about that, it’s boring and it’s stupid. I was kind of surprised at his response, but gave an overview of how his tribe fought for their land and how the elders saved their land from being lost. I explained how important tribal history is and if you lose your language, songs and spiritual,

ways you lose the family connection to your lives. I was shocked to see how this young generation disrespected their elderly who took a stand against the government to save their tribe. What can the youth do better? Learn to respect elders. Parents need to teach our youth to respect elders advice and knowledge! Because if they don’t, they will lose their culture!

BRENDA NEVERS Tribal Affiliation: Paiute Shoshone From: Reno, NV Age: A lady never tells her age. Parents: Warren & Adeline Stewart What have you been taught about respecting/ listening to your elders? Right from the time babies are born is when they should be taught right from wrong. Stories or advice you’d like to share with the youth? Respect your elders because one day, you will be an elder yourself. Treat them they way you would like to be treated. What can the youth do better? Listen to your elders. Offer assistance when needed. You shouldn’t have to be asked to help when you see an elder doing something, no matter what it is.


Indian Colony Age: 64 Parents: Marlene Moose from Fallon, NV & Tellivan Eben from Fort Bidwell, CA Grandparents: Howard Moose (FPST) from Fallon, NV & Dollie Davis Moose from Yerington, NV. What have you been taught about respecting/ listening to your elders? Take care of our elders. Keep them safe. Check their house, help them to keep clean. If you’re at your at an elder’s home, help them wash the dishes, laundry, stock up firewood, pick up the area, take out the garbage, etc. Show your elders you care about them! Stories or advice you’d like to share with the youth? Listen to stories & instruction of crafts, traditional outfits, beadwork, stories of family outings, family events, family history. When traveling through or to other states, pay attention to the roads, where’s the next gas station, stores, restaurants, and most

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Editor’s Note

First Nation’s Focus is publishing a regular section called “Wisdom Whisperers,” wherein elders from Northern Nevada and beyond are encouraged to share stories, traditional and cultural knowledge, advice and more. If you’re an elder and would like to share your wisdom, contact First Nation’s Focus Business Development Manager Bethany Sam (Hunkpapa Dakota Sioux, Kuizatika-ah Lee Vining Paiute, Washoe) at 775-297-1003 or email bethany@

importantly where your relatives homes are on your way to a destination. We all know, we have family all over the country. Make sure to take the time to visit when you can. What can the youth do better? Introduce yourself, help walk elders to car, make conversation about family or relatives. Ask your parents, who

are my relatives? Help carry heavy items. Make a safety path in bad weather. Remember it’s OK to ask questions or help. Ask about beadwork, traditional regalia, family heirlooms; ask what it’s made of and where did you get supplies. Encourage yourself your learn beading, learn old songs, learn your culture and traditions. O


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