Stories from the Wind River Reservation

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The Wind River Indian Reservation is as beautiful as its melodic name!  It’s one of the largest Reservations in the United States, spanning over 2.2 million acres and contained within the boundaries of the state.  Its scenery ranges from high grassland to some of the most majestic and least populated mountain ranges. Wyoming Public Media serves the Wind River Reservation through Lander (KUWR 91.9, Riverton (KUWT 91.3) and Dubois (KUWR 91.3) locations.  Our reporters tell the stories of the Reservation, focusing on issues that affect the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho Tribes.  You can hear these stories on this page.  They reflect the lives of people on the Reservation, their history, hopes, and ambitions. 

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News
2:15 pm
Tue October 22, 2013

Walter Echo-Hawk to speak on human rights in Native America

As part of the University of Wyoming Law Week, the College of Law is bringing in Walter Echo-Hawk to speak about human rights in Native America. Echo-Hawk is a lawyer and advocate for Native American rights and culture.

He says with the passing of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples by the United Nations, there’s hope for optimism.

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News
7:15 am
Fri August 23, 2013

Fort Washakie Health Center receives $1.1 million grant

The Northern Arapaho Tribe’s Housing Authority has received a $1.1 million Indian Community Development Block Grant. The competitive grant was awarded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Grant administrator for the Northern Arapaho tribe, Patrick Goggles, says the money will be used for upgrades to the Fort Washakie Health Center on the Wind River Indian Reservation.

“It’ll expand the number of patient rooms and it’ll expand the amount of healthcare that it dispenses to the clientele on the reservation,” says Goggles.

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News
7:16 pm
Thu August 8, 2013

Federal officials discuss Native American Education in Riverton

Credit Tom Laycock / Wyoming Department of Education

Officials from the Wind River Reservation discussed dropout rates, poverty issues, and the need for early childhood education during a panel that included two cabinet secretaries. 

The meeting in Riverton was intended to let Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and Education Secretary Arne Duncan hear about issues on the reservation.  State Board of Education Member Scotty Ratliff was impressed that the discussion moved away from cultural issues and centered on key issues like poverty and jobs.         

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News
7:56 am
Wed August 7, 2013

Long awaited Job Corps facility breaks ground Friday

An effort that began almost 8 years ago will lead to a long awaited groundbreaking on Friday. The 41 million dollar Wind River Job Corps will train disadvantaged students in energy production and will also help them enhance their academic and social skills. 

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News
6:57 am
Fri July 19, 2013

EPA to consider renewing produced water discharge permits on Wind River Reservation

Dirty water from the oil wells flows through oil-caked pipes into a settling pit where trucks vacuum off the oil. A net covers the pit to keep out birds and other wildlife. Streams of this wastewater flow through the reservation and join natural creeks and rivers.
Credit Elizabeth Shogren/NPR

The Environmental Protection Agency is taking public comments on the extension of several water discharge permits on the Wind River Indian Reservation.

The EPA is looking at renewing existing permits that allow companies to pump waste water from oil and gas fields to the surface on the Reservation. The produced water exemption allows this practice only in the arid West. In general, state agencies have tighter regulations than the EPA about what can be pumped to the surface, but tribal land is under the EPA’s jurisdiction.    

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News
3:12 pm
Mon July 15, 2013

Wind River Reservation Schools say they are fighting to improve

School officials from the Wind River Reservation admit they have problems graduating students and with educating students, but they also say they are slowly making progress.  School officials told a meeting of two legislative committees that more early education and more involvement with parents.  But they all say that socio-economic factors also play a role.  Wyoming Interim Education Director Jim Rose says resolving that issue will be tricky.

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News
6:33 pm
Wed July 10, 2013

New report says contaminated uranium site more complex than previously thought

Credit US Department of Energy

The Department of Energy says that the high levels of uranium at a contaminated site on Wind River Reservation might not flush out of the groundwater naturally in 100 years, like they previously thought.  

Tailings from a uranium mill that functioned at the Riverton Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act site in the 1960s left the area’s groundwater with high levels of uranium and the DOE took over management of the site in the late ‘80s.

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Uranium waste
6:16 pm
Tue June 11, 2013

Tribes and Dept. of Energy sign cooperative agreement

Credit US Department of Energy

The Department of Energy and the Tribal Joint Business Council have signed a cooperative agreement for one year to address the work being done on the contaminated uranium mill tailings site on the Wind River Indian Reservation.


The Riverton Site is where a uranium and vanadium ore processing facility operated until the 1960s. The DOE is responsible for long-term management of the site, but the Tribes have pushed for more involvement in the process.

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News
5:44 pm
Mon May 27, 2013

Native American Lawmaker is hoping to get more tribal members engaged in politics

A State Representative who represents the Wind River Reservation says it’s essential that Native Americans hold office and articulate their points of view to the rest of the state.  That’s why Representative Patrick Goggles has been working to get more young people interested in politics. 

“We are in that process of encouraging many young folks to endeavor into the arena of politics.  Our motto is that if you don’t articulate the politics of your community, someone will for you.”

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News
8:42 am
Thu May 23, 2013

Northern Arapaho Tribe sanctioned for bad audits

The Northern Arapaho Tribe is currently being sanctioned for not submitting their audits for the last couple of years, and the audits that were submitted, up to 2010, received poor marks. The audits found that everything from timely drawdowns to proper tracking of tribal and federal funds to a suitable Human Resources system that hired qualified workers and paid them appropriate wages were missing or lacking. The tribe put together a corrective action plan after the 2009 audit.

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Open Spaces
12:41 pm
Tue May 21, 2013

The Wind River Casino is doing well, but some tribal members expect more

The Northern Arapaho Tribe opened the doors to its full-scale casino in 2005. Wyoming Public Radio’s Irina Zhorov reports that eight years into the venture, the casino is making money but some wonder where it’s going. 


IRINA ZHOROV: The Wind River Casino has been open for almost a decade but it’s still a novelty to walk into; whirring slot machines, dimmed lights, card tables, all on the edge of Riverton on a piece of prairie.


[sound of machines]

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Open Spaces
6:27 pm
Fri May 17, 2013

New Northern Arapaho Business Council resolves to fix tribe’s poor financial management

The Northern Arapaho Tribe is a mess, financially. They’re behind on their audits, past audits have not been flattering, and change has been slow to come. Wyoming Public Radio’s Irina Zhorov has been looking into why the audits are less than ideal and the status of the Tribe’s future financial solvency.   


BOB BECK: To start, why is a federal governmental agency even auditing a tribe, if the tribe is supposed to be pretty much sovereign?

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Open Spaces
6:20 pm
Fri May 17, 2013

UW’s Native American graduates are important to the Wind River Reservation

In the mid 1990’s the University of Wyoming made a conscious effort to attract more Native American students to the University. Over the years recruitment and retention of students from the Wind River Reservation has been challenging.  New efforts could change things and many believe that will be important for the long term health of the Reservation.

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Open Spaces
6:16 pm
Fri May 17, 2013

Arapahoe School Superintendent leaves after pivotal school year

During Jonathan Braack’s time as superintendent of Fremont School District 38, the Arapahoe School met federal education standards for the first time. Braack Arapahoe this week to become Niobrara County’s School Superintendent. Chantell Denson will take over as superintendent of Fremont #38.
Credit Rebecca Martinez

The once-faltering Fremont School District 38 in Arapahoe turned a complete 180 since Superintendent Jonathan Braack took the helm in January 2012.

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Open Spaces
6:13 pm
Fri May 17, 2013

Peer mentoring program aims to prevent substance abuse and keep kids in touch with tribal heritage

Rapper Chief Swagg poses for a photo with students on the Wind River Indian Reservation at the ESCAPE kick-off concert. ESCAPE is a program of the Eastern Shoshone Department of Juvenile Services, and it works to train students to educate their peers about making healthy choices.
Credit windriverescape.org

Substance abuse is a concern for most school districts across the country, but on the Wind River Indian Reservation, it’s a red flag for especially high crime and suicide rates. Tribes have been trying – with mixed success – to keep kids from abusing alcohol and tobacco… But a new program from the Eastern Shoshone Department of Juvenile Services is working to train a league of student mentors to help their peers avoid risky behaviors. Wyoming Public Radio’s Rebecca Martinez filed this report.

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Open Spaces
6:02 pm
Fri May 17, 2013

Lander native reflects on his family history and relationship with the Eastern Shoshone tribe

Kit Freedman is a graduate of University of Wyoming, who did his thesis research on the Wind River Indian Reservation. In this essay he reflects on his family’s multi-generational history in Lander.   

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News
6:13 pm
Mon May 6, 2013

New project wants to reduce diabetes on Wind River with gardens

A new project on the Wind River Indian Reservation seeks to reduce diabetes rates by helping tribal families grow their own vegetables. More than 11% of the people on the reservation have diabetes.

The project is a collaboration between community health groups on the reservation, and the University of Wyoming.

Virginia Sutter with Blue Mountain Associates is one of the leaders of the project. She says diabetes rates are high because tribal members have very different diets than they have historically.

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Indian Sanitation
6:13 am
Mon April 22, 2013

Wyoming tribes have 33 sanitation development projects in need of attention

There are about $2.9 billion worth of sanitation development projects in tribal communities across the US, and Wyoming has 33 projects that add up to just under $16.5 million dollars, according to the US Indian Health Service.

   Ronald Ferguson directs the IHS Division of Sanitation Facilities. He says Wyoming is in a better position than some other areas.   

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News
12:26 pm
Tue April 9, 2013

Native American leader says protecting water rights is key for tribes

Credit Tristan Ahtone

Native American tribes need to make sure they are protecting their natural resources. Eastern Shoshone Business Council member Wes Martel, from the Wind River Indian Reservation, spoke during a University of Wyoming American Indian Studies program this week. Martel said tribes need to be more careful about the kinds of contracts they enter into for energy development. He added that water is the new gold but very few tribes are taking real steps to secure this resource.  

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News
6:48 pm
Tue March 12, 2013

Federal sequester threatens school programs on Wind River Indian Reservation

Federal budget cuts are causing schools on the Wind River Indian Reservation to tighten their belts.

Wyoming provides funding to all public schools in the state, but 10 districts – including several on the reservation – also receive money from the federal Impact Aid program.  That supplements funding to school districts that include federal land that is not subject to property taxes.

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News
6:03 pm
Thu February 21, 2013

DOE releases numbers from testing of uranium-contaminated site on Wind River

The US Department of Energy has released data from sampling the agency did at the Riverton Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act Site in August. The area, which is on the Wind River Indian Reservation, was contaminated with uranium and vanadium in the late 1950s  and early 1960s, when a uranium mill processed ore there. In the ‘90s the DOE recommended waiting for natural dissolution to clean the site, and levels of contamination seemed to be diminishing predictably until a big flood in 2010.

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News
2:59 pm
Wed January 30, 2013

Senate file would allow Northern Arapaho Tribe to hunt eagles

The State Senate gave second approval to a bill that would allow the Northern Arapaho Tribe to kill golden eagles for tribal ceremonies as long as it is done in compliance with federal law.  

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Wind River Indian Reservation
5:48 pm
Thu January 24, 2013

Child Advocacy Center opens on Wind River Reservation


Yesterday, the Eastern Shoshone tribe opened a Child Advocacy Center on the Wind River Indian Reservation. The center will offer emergency assistance to children and families who have been victimized by physical and sexual abuse.

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Wind River Indian Reservation
5:19 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

The Arapahoe School is seeing continued improvements

Credit Alan Rogers / Casper Star-TribuneFourth-grader Alex Behan, right, raises his hand to answer a question during a reading exercise Thursday in Connie Vincent's class at Arapahoe School.Edit | Remove

After the Arapahoe School on the Wind River Reservation saw an uptick in math and reading scores in the state PAWS results this summer, the school has continued to see improvements.

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Open Spaces
3:27 pm
Fri October 5, 2012

Northern Arapaho tribal entities work to preserve their language in the face of extinction

Arapaho Preschool
Rebecca Martinez

HOST: The number of Northern Arapaho tribe members who speak their native language is dwindling. Tribal entities have been working for decades trying to preserve the language. Wyoming Public Radio’s Rebecca Martinez reports that they’ve been having mixed success.

(Sound: kids speaking Arapaho)

REBECCA MARTINEZ: Tribal elder Alvena Oldman is the director of an Arapaho language immersion preschool in Ethete.

OLDMAN: Hinono’ Eitiino’ Oowu’. Arapaho Language Lodge.

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News
3:54 pm
Fri September 21, 2012

Tribal Energy Development Act Goes to Senate

The Tribal Energy Development and Self-Determination Act Amendments of 2012 have passed the Senate Indian Affairs Committee. The Act aims to simplify and expedite the process of leasing for energy development on tribal land. U.S. Senator John Barrasso introduced it last October.  

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Bison
7:58 am
Thu August 30, 2012

Wind River Tribes Want Bison to Return to Reservation

Jim Schulz, AP Photo/Chicago Zoological Society Associated Press

The Wind River Reservation is actively trying to acquire some 160 bison that will be moved from one of Ted Turner’s ranches.  Federal agencies are helping ranch managers determine where they should go. 

Eastern Shoshone tribal member and wildlife scientist Jason Baldes says both the Northern Arapaho and Shoshone would like to acquire at least some of the Bison.  Federal lands and refuges are being considered as other possible locations. 

Garrit Voggesser of the National Wildlife Federation likes the idea of putting the animals on the Wind River Reservation.

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Pollution
8:23 am
Mon August 27, 2012

Problems Arise in Additional Testing at Riverton Uranium-Contaminated Site

US Department of Energy

The Department of Energy is gearing up for new, one-time testing at the contaminated Uranium Mill Tailings site in Riverton.

A uranium mill in the 1960s left the groundwater there with high levels of uranium, and the DOE is still monitoring it. Additional testing is supposed to help the agency update their computer model, which predicts progress of clean-up at the site.

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Wind River Indian Reservation
8:45 am
Fri August 24, 2012

Sex offender registry established on Wind River Reservation

The Northern Arapaho Tribe has set up a sex offender registration office on the Wind River Indian Reservation. The Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone tribes recently agreed to share the registry. The first offender was registered Friday.

The office was established under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act – or SORNA – to close reporting gaps among states, territories and Indian Country.

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News
5:45 pm
Thu August 2, 2012

More groundwater testing for uranium-contaminated Riverton site

The U.S. Department of Energy will run additional groundwater tests at a Riverton site contaminated with uranium. The Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act site was contaminated after hosting a uranium mill there in the 1960’s.  

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