In December, the Northern Arapaho tribe sent a letter to a grizzly bear management subcommittee they sit on, casting their vote against a management plan that would be implemented if the bear is removed from the endangered species list. In the letter, Northern Arapaho Tribal Historic Preservation Director Yufna Soldier Wolf expressed frustration that the subcommittee made the vote at a November meeting in Cody without a tribal member in attendance.
Mary Erickson is the chair of the Yellowstone Ecosystem Subcommittee, part of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee. She said, when she got Soldier Wolf’s letter, she went ahead and included the tribe's written vote in the records, even though it isn't standard procedure. Erickson said since the Wind River tribes currently manage numerous grizzlies on their reservation, their input is valuable.
“To the extent the tribe wants to send a representative to those meetings, I think that would be very helpful,” she said. “And then they can add topics, they can provide speakers, they can fully be part of the process of the subcommittee.”
Soldier Wolf sent letters to both the Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and the Yellowstone Ecosystem Subcommittee expressing the tribe's disapproval of the proposed delisting and in being left out of the vote cast at a November meeting in Cody. Her letter also accused the subcommittee of misrepresenting the Northern Arapaho as supportive of grizzly delisting when they aren't.
Subcommittee Chair Erickson said the committee didn't claim to know the tribe's position since they haven't attended any meetings, even though they're always sent invitations to do so.
“My recollection and perception is I don't think our committee has ever to my knowledge misrepresented the views of the tribal nations,” said Erickson.
Among other things, the management plan outlines under what conditions grizzly hunts could take place, something the tribe opposes.
Counting the Northern Arapaho vote, the subcommittee voted 18 to 2 to adopt the plan. The Shoshone-Bannock Tribe of Montana, who also sits on the committee, abstained.
The next Yellowstone Ecosystem Subcommittee meeting is scheduled for the end of March in Jackson.