Paiute environmental activist Calvin Meyers dies at age 57

Friends remember Calvin Meyers as an environmental activist and public speaker against plans by the Department of Energy to haul nuclear waste to Yucca Mountain and the Nevada Test Site.

The former chairman of the Moapa Band of Paiutes died May 15 of complications from a stroke he suffered last year. He was 57.

He was buried Saturday in the Moapa Indian Cemetery following a traditional service.

“He was self-motivated and fought for the land and the people,” his Western Shoshone friend Ian Zabarte wrote in a memorial email message.

“Those of us who were his colleagues eventually became his longtime friends. Over time we saw a glimpse of the world as he saw it, the things that gave his life meaning and value,” Zabarte wrote. “We listened, debated and joined in the battles he fought: nuclear weapons testing, nuclear waste, cultural preservation, coal-fired electricity generation. Each of these issues were won, at some level by him.”

Calvin Ward Meyers was born Sept. 9, 1955, in Las Vegas. He grew up on the Moapa River Indian Reservation and graduated from Stewart Indian School in Stewart, which lies within Carson City. He later attended Intermountain Indian School in Brigham City, Utah.

He was fond of photography, cooking, beading and educating Paiute youth about their culture and heritage, according to his friend Holly Woodward.

“Calvin fought to keep Nevada wild, and wanted the state to lead the way in sustainable development. People should keep the momentum up and get involved in some of the causes he worked so hard on,” she said.

Meyers held numerous positions in the Paiute community including Moapa Band of Paiutes council member, vice chairman and chairman. He was a member of the tribe’s Cultural Committee, the Consolidated Group of Tribes and Organization, and the Nevada Test Site Native American Program.

He once wrote of his passion for beading “as a way of relaxation (that) also keeps my mind filled with good thoughts.”

He never hesitated to take the microphone and let government officials know where he stood on issues that affected Native American lands and cultures.

In a 2010 Southern Nevada Health District meeting about NV Energy’s plans to expand a coal-ash landfill at the Reid Gardner power plant near the reservation, Meyers pointed out that the plant’s monitoring reports had numerous data gaps.

He said the reports were too confusing for the average reader.

“For me, it was like getting a message from Mars,” he said. “What we need to do is get somebody else to do the monitoring, somebody not paid for by” NV Energy.

Meyers was married to the late Mitzi Pete Meyers. He is survived by his brother, Randy Meyers, of Moapa, and many relatives in Las Vegas; St. George, Utah; Parker, Ariz.; and Mohave Valley, Ariz.

Contact reporter Keith Rogers at krogers@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0308