It has been said that the call toward home never leaves you, which explains a lot about the journey Cynthia Oceguera has taken.
Born in Schurz, as a young woman she left to explore other places by attending the University of Alaska, graduating from the University of Nevada-Reno and having a stint living in Texas, which all broadened her perspective in a positive sense. She was one of the many Schurz students that continued to secure scholarships and went on to begin the Indian Alumni in Reno. Education was of utmost importance to her pathway as she secured a marketing degree to be involved in business communities, plus she became a nutritionist and became active through the Indian Health Services.
Hold up 10 fingers and Oceguera will quickly dictate the many things she loves. She is committed to all animals, Indian traditions or talents, as well as a genuine, healthy eco system. Foremost is her devotion which lies in the roots of her homeland.
“I was born here and raised in such an idyllic environment, it saddens me to see the depressed state this county has come to. As a kid, we had lush green ditches with tall trees, tire swings and we swam in the ditches and the river without fear of any pesticides or contaminates. Wild berries could be eaten, fresh asparagus lined the waterways and it was part of our generation to enjoy long days out in nature within our colony of relatives all living here,” Oceguera reflected.
With her origins from the Yosemite Miwok Tribe, Oceguera explained that her mother’s family migrated to Schurz as they were part of the Paiute tribe, which was a registered group with federally recognized land allocation. Apparently her father’s heritage was French Basque who migrated from Spain, but her mother’s family took part in the Great Basin migration, which includes the dispersion of Paiutes throughout this region.
“I had such a wonderful childhood here; I couldn’t help but return and try to contribute to the community who gave me so much. The vegetation was full in those days and used for everyday medicines, which were passed down as our heritage of knowledge. There was an active railroad which provided pump cars on the rails, which kids like me would “borrow” as we explored. We rode horses freely and played in open fields.”
Oceguera explained that it was water that allowed the area to flourish. Fishing the river or Walker Lake were common, everyday events. It provided a nutritious balance within the thousand plus residents within the Schurz land boundaries.
Today Oceguera is working for the tribe as a GAP manager, which gives general assistance, while balancing this with the environmental involvement in projects such as the Anaconda Mine issue or the state, federal and political agencies trying to either improve, dismantle, research or change the quality of life.
“Life in this county must be embraced as a collaborative effort. We need each other to improve our quality of life here. We need all our voices for the water to not only come back to our region appropriately, but it must be quality water. We need economic development to manifest and broaden the work base with quality workers that are educated and trained to do their best. We need wage-earners. I personally want our Indian culture and heritage to live on in its history, teachings, language and resume the wonderful sharing once done within our tribe. Change is not a curse word – it is necessary for growth. I want this vision to bloom before I die, because the poor planning of other’s before me is not my problem. We need today to count in a shared vision.”