Native Americans from across the state are using song and dance to show their opposition to bear hunts in Nevada.
About 50 supporters of the anti-bear hunt bill SB 82 converged outside the Nevada Legislature building Monday to protect the "bear nation."
Raquel Arthur represents the Pyramid Lake Paiute tribe. She says Native Americans view the bear as a sacred animal, and strongly disapprove of the state allowing hunters to kill their "relative."
As Tribal Day at the legislative session continues, supporters say they'll stay at the capital doing whatever they can to give the bears a voice.
Among the reasons that the Native Americans oppose the bear hunt are:
The black bear is a religious, sacred animal to Native Americans because he provides healing medicine to them, and they consider him a relative. They have dances and ceremonies that honor the bear to this day. To kill a bear for sport is extremely offensive to them.
The Nevada Department of Wildlife never consulted with any Nevada tribe before creating the bear hunt.
The bear hunt takes place where Native Americans conduct their annual pine nut harvest, principally in the Pine Nut Mountains and the Sweetwater Range, which creates serious public safety threats to their families.
Last September, members from two AIM chapters (AIM of Northern Nevada and AIM of Western Nevada) presented to Governor Sandoval Resolutions opposing the bear hunt from the Inter-Tribal Council of Nevada, which represents all 27 tribes in Nevada, and from 11 other individual Tribal Councils from all around the State. Accompanying these Resolutions were petitions opposing the bear hunt signed by approximately 800 Nevada Native Americans from four Great Basin Tribes (Washoe, Northern and Southern Paiute, and Shoshone).
(The Associated Press and American Indian Movement contributed to this report)