Tristan Ahtone

Reporter

Phone: 307-766-5064
Email: tahtone@uwyo.edu 

Tristan Ahtone is a member of the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma. He’s also German and English and a few other dashes of Euro-mix (just to make things more interesting). Before becoming a reporter, Tristan held a number of exciting jobs, such as door-to-door salesman, delivery driver, telemarketer, air-conditioning repairman, secretary, janitor, busboy, and office clerk to name a few.

In 2006, Tristan graduated from the Institute of American Indian Arts with a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing. In 2008, he received a master’s degree in broadcast journalism from the Columbia School of Journalism. After graduating with a masters in journalism Tristan worked with The Newshour with Jim Lehrer, National Native News, Frontline and NPR. Then the recession came and he moved to Hong Kong to teach English for a year, returned to New Mexico to teach a journalism course, and finally arrived at Wyoming Public Radio in August of 2010.

In his spare time, Tristan enjoys watching films, exotic travel, good food and strong drink - but dislikes going to bed, getting up, or being left alone, as he tends to get in trouble.

A recent report shows that 2010 revenue from Native American casinos grew a little over one-percent, down significantly from previous years.

The Indian Gaming Industry Report shows that in 2008 revenue growth ran about 39-percent… and in 2009 it shrank to nearly 10-percent. The new numbers rank Wyoming 15th in the nation, compared to 28 other states that have Indian gaming.

Alan Meister is the author of the report. He says despite the drop in growth, future improvements to revenue may be on the way.

Listen to the story

During this year’s Legislative session, lawmakers proposed a joint resolution known as the Riverton Uranium Mill Tailings Remedial Action bill. Tailings are waste left over from mining operations. In this case, the tailings in question are from uranium mining on the Wind River Reservation. The tailings have caused groundwater contamination, which many residents believe has led to health problems.

In a February letter to the Department of Energy, Gov. Matt Mead expressed concern that the passive handling of uranium contamination on the Wind River Reservation might not be living up to the DOE’s remedial action plan.

The DOE asserted that the site would clean itself up after 100 years, and despite that uranium tailings were removed from the site decades ago, spikes in uranium were measured in DOE monitoring wells in 2010.

State, tribal and federal officials have agreed to work collaboratively in Pavillion to do further sampling and collect more data in their water monitoring wells. The move is expected to push back a final report on a possible link between water contamination and hydraulic fracturing in the area until later this year.

Listen to the story

With only a week to go until the legislative session is over, Wyoming lawmakers are reviewing a number of bills, including a joint resolution requesting Congress to provide for increased monitoring and funding for remediation of the Riverton uranium mill tailings site. Tailings constitute waste left over from mining operations. Last year we brought you a story about the site in which the Department of Energy released data showing that uranium levels in the area had spiked as high as 100 times the legal limit, and while legislative action on the issue may sound good, it’s bringing up a lot of questions, and anger. Wyoming Public Radio’s Tristan Ahtone reports.

All counties except Sweetwater have reported results for a non-binding Wyoming straw poll to show favor for a Republican presidential nominee.

With more than 2,000 votes recorded at precincts around the state, Mitt Romney leads the pack with nearly 800 votes. He's followed by Rick Santorum with a little under 700.

In third place, Ron Paul has collected about 400 votes. And in last place, Newt Gingrich has about 150 votes.

It’s the first year Wyoming Republicans have conducted a straw poll, and all votes were collected during precinct caucuses over the last month.

With problems over water contamination in the town of Pavillion, and possible actions to remediate a contaminated uranium site on the Wind River Reservation,  tribal officials have pushed to be the lead agency in both situations, as the areas impacted are within the boundaries of the reservation and impact tribal trust assets.

The U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a decision by a Wyoming court, ordering Fremont County elections officials to implement a single-member elections system.

The decision is an attempt to remedy discrimination against American Indian voters.

In the past, Fremont county used an at-large system, wherevoters chose candidates for the entire county, rather than for smaller districts. That meant minority candidates didn’t have much of a chance. In contrast, a single-member system allows voters to choose candidates from their specific area.

Registered Republicans will be able to vote in precinct caucuses tomorrow/Thursday in both Sublette and Goshen counties.

Bob Rule is state committeeman for Sublette County. He says precinct caucuses are important because they serve as the entry point for political participation.

Methanol Vial/ credit: Rebecca Martinez

Crook County Republicans will be the first in the state to weigh in on the presidential election this weekend when precincts caucus at the courthouse in Sundance.

Crook County Committeeman Bruce Brown says registered Republican voters will meet to talk about platforms and resolutions that will be forwarded to the County and State Conventions in March.

At a meeting with Pavillion residents this morning, Governor Mead said he wants to continue providing people with safe water.

Pavillion is at the center of an EPA investigation about whether hydraulic fracturing has contaminated the town’s drinking water supply. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease recommended that residents refrain from drinking the water AND shower with their windows open, and as a result, area oil and gas producer EnCana, and the state of Wyoming, are now paying to have bottled water delivered to residents.

In the wake of a congressional hearing over a draft report by the Environmental Protection Agency that links hydraulic fracturing with water contamination in the town of Pavillion, the Wind River Tribes are pushing to take a bigger role in the investigation.

Energy and Environment Subcommittee

Members of the U.S. House Energy and Environment Subcommittee slammed the Environmental Protection Agency during a hearing about the agency’s ground water research in the town of Pavillion.

The Energy and Environment Subcommittee hearing got off to a late start after “Gasland” filmmaker Josh Fox was arrested for trying to film the proceedings. Fox has spent considerable time in Pavillion documenting water contamination that may be associated with hydraulic fracturing. An ABC News crew was denied entrance to the hearing.

EPA

Tomorrow, the U-S House of Representatives’ Energy and Environment Subcommittee will hear about the Environmental Protection Agency’s ongoing investigation of groundwater contamination in the town of Pavillion. However, Pavillion residents say they were not invited to testify.

In December the EPA released a draft report on its three-year water contamination investigation. It indicated that ground water in Pavillion’s aquifer contains compounds that are “likely associated with gas production practices, including hydraulic fracturing.”

Tristan Ahtone

Listen to the Story

It’s been said that dead men tell no tales, but in the forensic anthropology lab at the University of Wyoming, researchers are proving otherwise. Over the winter, Wyoming Public Radio’s Tristan Ahtone paid a visit to the lab, and he brings us this report on what happens when you find a body in the state, and the process on how scientists identify those remains.

New numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau show that people in Wyoming reporting to be American Indian in combination with one or more races grew 24%.

In 2010 over 13-thousand people in Wyoming reported American Indian as their only race. However, those who chose multiple races - American Indian in combination with something else – was nearly 19-thousand. That’s up from 15-thousand a decade ago.

The American Indian Studies program at the University of Wyoming says that they have contracted architect Johnpaul Jones to develop a proposed American Indian center at U-W.

Jones has worked as lead-consultant for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, as well as numerous other cultural centers, museums and parks.

Judith Antell is Director of American Indian Studies at UW.

Some Native American farmers and ranchers in Wyoming could be receiving checks and debt forgiveness in the coming year in the wake of a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
 
It’s estimated that Native American farmers and ranchers lost over 770-million-dollars in revenue between 1981 and 1999, because the USDA denied them loans and services based on their race. Many Native Americans also lost their land in the process.

The Environmental Protection Agency announced it is extending the public comment period on the draft Pavillion ground water investigation to March 12. It's an attempt to allow all stakeholders and the public additional time to review the report and its related documents. On Tuesday, the EPA invited the public to nominate scientific experts to be peer reviewers of the draft report. Nominations will be accepted through February 17th. In December, Gov.

The legislature’s Joint Travel, Recreation, Wildlife and Cultural Resources Committee is sponsoring a bill that would allow hunters to bait big game animals. The bill is meant to help lure deer herds away from towns where they could be killed safely.
Republican Senator Bruce Burns of Sheridan is co-chair of the committee. He says having too many big game animals near towns and along the highway is dangerous for drivers and animals.
 

Listen to the Story

In the class action lawsuit Cobell vs. Salazar, plaintiff Elouise Cobell accused the Federal Government of mismanaging nearly 150-billion dollars in royalties owed to Indian landowners due to the loss and destruction of records. The government agreed to a $3.4 billion dollar settlement – and government data estimates there are up to 8,000 possible beneficiaries here in Wyoming.

Pages