Tristan Ahtone


Phone: 307-766-5064

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.

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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.

Governor Matt Mead says falling natural gas prices make this a good time to reevaluate his proposed budget. In December, the governor submitted his budget, which asked agencies to present a two-percent cut to their budgets. That budget was based on natural gas prices which were nearly $3.50 per MCF at the time.

Wyoming ranks in the middle of the pack in American public school education. That’s according to a national report released by Education Week magazine and the Editorial Projects in Education research center, or E.P.E.

According to the report, Wyoming received a B-plus in school finance… one of the highest grades in the nation… but received a D+ in K through 12 achievement. The state also received a D-plus in the category “teaching profession” which assesses accountability, incentives and support capacity for instructors.

Wind River Reservation

On Monday, the Federal Court of Appeals reinstated a claim filed by the Wind River Tribes against the federal government which accuses the Department of Interior of mismanaging mineral royalties for the two tribes.
 The Shoshone and Arapaho claims were initially filed in 1979. Since then, most have been adjudicated and settled, however, one big piece remains: oil and gas leases initially established in the early 1900’s.
 Allegedly, the Department of Interior managed those leases, then illegally transformed them into new leases in the 1930s.

Encana Oil and Gas says the Environmental Protection Agency is moving too fast with its draft analysis of ground water contamination in the town of Pavillion, and has asked the EPA to suspend the public comment period.

In a letter dated January 6th, Encana oil and gas asked the EPA to suspend the public comment period until the agency’s plans were better explained and additional critical data could be disseminated.

Yellowstone National Park

Officials at Yellowstone National Park are seeking public comment on a draft report about threats the park is facing, as well as progress made addressing those threats.

The report was prompted by the UN's World Heritage Committee after the park became a UNESCO world heritage site in 1978.

Al Nash is a spokesperson for Yellowstone. He says the World Heritage Committee put the park on its list of endangered places in 1095, when a plan to mine gold in an area adjacent to the park was to resume… but, when that plan was scrapped, Yellowstone was removed from the list.

A series of town hall meeting around the state will be held to glean public opinion on healthcare exchanges - a set of state regulated, standardized healthcare plans from which individuals may purchase insurance that’s eligible for federal subsidies.

Elizabeth Hoy serves as the Governor’s Health Policy Advisor. She says the meetings are being held because the Affordable Care Act, or ACA, requires states to create health exchanges, where consumers can shop for competitive rates for health insurance.

Hoy says many small businesses are on board with the changes.

The Chabad Jewish Center of Wyoming will light a giant, 10-foot menorah at the capitol building Tuesday to celebrate Hanukkah. 

Rabbi Zalman Mendelsohn of the Chabad center says the lighting will celebrate the seventh day of the eight day holiday which began last week and shows how much the Jewish community in the state has grown over the years.

Governor Matt Mead has asked for the Environmental Protection Agency to clarify how the peer review process will work, when it comes the groundwater investigation in Pavillion.

Earlier this month, the EPA released a draft report indicating that ground water in the aquifer contains compounds that are “likely associated with gas production practices, including hydraulic fracturing”.  

Governor Mead's policy director Sean Reese says Mead sent a letter asking for state involvement.

Canadian energy corporation Encana says “the EPA made critical mistakes and misjudgments” when it released a draft report linking water contamination in the town of Pavillion to hydraulic fracturing.

Earlier this month, the EPA released a draft report on their three year water contamination investigation… indicating that ground water in the aquifer contains compounds that are “likely associated with gas production practices, including hydraulic fracturing.”


Increased holiday travel is expected for AAA’s mountain region this year, and could beat the national average. Wyoming is classified as part of the mountain region, and travel and auto group AAA expects a 2.2% percent increase from last year. That’s compared to 1.4% percent nationally.

AAA Spokeswoman Tara Handley says this will be the second busiest travel season in a decade, and the best since the recession ended.

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INTRO: Most U.S. religions have no problem carrying out their spiritual exercises. But, for Native Americans in Wyoming and elsewhere, practicing traditional religious ceremonies isn't so simple: They can be heavily regulated by federal authorities, especially when it comes to the use of sacred items like eagle feathers. Wyoming Public Radio’s Tristan Ahtone reports.

The Wyoming Medical Center says it will appeal a ruling that would remove its Medicare “sole community provider” status.  The decision would cost the hospital approximately 8-million dollars in yearly reimbursements from the federal government.

“Sole community provider” status aims to provide hospitals in rural areas money to offset expenses so they can provide full services to smaller populations.

A new report from the Wyoming Children’s Action Alliance says between 2005 and 2010, the number of children living in poverty jumped from 11 percent to 14 percent. Marc Homer is with the Children’s Action Alliance. He says the biggest spike came in 2009 and 10 when the nations recession began to catch up to the state, and childhood poverty jumped from 13 percent to 19 percent.

“Certainly I think it’s the recession that’s hit the United States and its impacted Wyoming,” says Homer. “So we’re seeing a slowing of the economy and this trickles down to families in our communities.”

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Pete and Lynne Simpson grew up across the street from one other in Cody. Pete eventually left town for the Navy, and Lynne went to New York to become an actress. But one Christmas, the two saw each other back home in Cody. That led to a whirlwind thirteen day courtship and 51 years of marriage. The couple talked to Wyoming Public Radio's Tristan Ahtone about falling in love.

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A listing of today's stories


U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar says Wyoming could be used as a template for how the federal government addresses challenges that sage-grouse face not only here, but across the bird’s range across the West. Salazar says if the states work with the federal government, Wyoming’s plan could help authorities balance conservation with development.


New proposals by state and federal officials might help authorities crack down on fraudulent and insolvent insurance trusts.

On Monday, the Department of Labor announced that new regulations under the Affordable Care Act would give the agency more power to oversee associations composed of multiple employers. They’re called MEWA’s for short.

The Joint Labor, Health and Social Services interim committee will also meet to discuss a proposed bill that aims to provide the state’s insurance department more authority over health insurance trusts and plans.