Tribes concerned over state response to EPA's reservation boundary ruling

Jan 6, 2014

Agreement over the boundaries of the Wind River Indian Reservation seems to be a long way off between the state’s tribes and Governor Matt Mead. 

The dispute is over an Environmental Protection Agency ruling that the city of Riverton falls on tribal land. In a letter to the governor Wednesday, the Northern Arapaho tribe says it was surprised by the governor’s reaction to the EPA ruling.  They say in the past, the state has actively promoted the idea of giving the tribes Treatment as a State status and allowing the EPA to settle the 1905 Act boundary dispute, once and for all. 

Spokesman Mark Howell with the Northern Arapaho says the EPA only affirmed what tribes have known for decades.  “The truth of the matter is, Riverton has been within the exterior boundaries of the reservation for a long, long time,” Howell says.  “Long prior to 1905.  And the 1905 Act did not change that.  This decision simply reaffirms that point.”

In his own letter, Governor Mead said for 108 years the state has held a consistent position on the boundary, and he isn't sure why the tribe thought the state supported the idea of the federal government overturning state law.