Tribal News

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. 

Anna Rader

The University of Wyoming has a job opening for a Native American Program Advisor. The hope is for the person to help bring up native enrollment numbers which are at an all-time low.

Since her arrival, UW President Laurie Nichols has made Native American enrollment a priority. James Trosper is the director of the Native American Education and Research Center. He said her message of inclusion is already starting to resonate and more Native Americans applied for tribal scholarships this year than last.

Melodie Edwards

After numerous requests by the Northern Arapaho tribe, the remains of children buried in a cemetery at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Pennsylvania in the late 1800’s have been returned to them so they could re-bury them on the Wind River Indian Reservation. Last month, the army college that now owns the former boarding school and graveyard agreed to exhume three of the graves.

Central Wyoming College

 

Central Wyoming College in Riverton sits in a very unique spot in the state: right next door to the Wind River Indian Reservation. Many of its students are Native American. But now, the school is stepping up to do even more for the tribal community and are well underway in designing a program to educate future Native leaders.

Wikimedia Commons

Earlier this month, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed the Yellowstone area grizzly bear from the endangered species list. On Wednesday, wildlife and tribal groups filed a lawsuit to stop the delisting.

Martirene Alcantara

The artist residency program Ucross in north central Wyoming has created a new fellowship for Native American visual artists. Ucross President Sharon Dynak said they decided to pursue the fellowship because they haven’t seen as many applications from Native artists as they’d like, even though their ranch is located near both the Wind River and Crow reservations.

Darrah Perez

Today in Riverton, a class full of Native American jewelry makers are learning how to screen print. Eastern Shoshone member Hope Abeyta wants to screen print her logo on a child-size tepee. The Central Wyoming College course was created specifically for the eclipse since Riverton and much of the reservation falls inside the eclipse’s shadow. The goal is to get these artists the business skills they need to be ready for the event. Abeyta says she found the class on Facebook and signed up.

Several groups are working on a project aimed at representing the cultural importance of elk to the Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone tribes.

Associated Press

450 people gathered at the Native American Education Conference to celebrate the passing of a bill that mandates all Wyoming school’s to begin teaching the history and culture of the state’s tribes. 

Wyoming Department of Education’s Rob Black said, the Indian Education For All Act sailed through legislature on the first try. State Senator Cale Case, Northern Arapaho Chairman Roy Brown, and Eastern Shoshone Chairman Shakespeare discussed the benefits of the bill at the conference. Chairman Brown said he is in favor of the bill.

Wyoming Department of Education

Educators, community leaders and students gathered this week for the 8th annual Native American Education Conference at the St. Stephen’s Indian School outside Riverton. The two-day event focused on promoting understanding, building relationships and generating ideas about how to best support Native American students.

 

Rob Black is the Native American liaison for the Wyoming Department of Education, and he helped organize the conference. He said while the conference focuses on solutions, it doesn’t shy away from the hard stuff.

 

Leslie Shakespeare

Northern Arapaho Chairman Roy Brown and Eastern Shoshone Chairman Leslie Shakespeare both attended the world premiere of the new movie Wind River on July 26 at the Ace Hotel Theatre in Los Angeles. The film depicts hardship and violence on Wyoming’s Wind River Reservation.

Chairman Roy Brown said Wind River tells a fictional story of a missing and murdered woman in the Wind River Reservation. Only seats away from the film’s actors at the Los Angeles premiere, he was glad to see a film that focused on social issues that are not often talked about.

Credit Grizzly bear on Swan Lake Flats, Yellowstone National Park; Jim Peaco

This week, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officially removed the Yellowstone area grizzly from the endangered species list, pronouncing it a success story. But several tribes including the Northern Arapaho, Northern Cheyenne, Standing Rock Sioux and Blackfeet are suing over the decision. Ben Nuvamsa is a member of the Hopi Nation Bear Clan that’s also part of the lawsuit. He said, by law, the federal government should have consulted tribes before delisting the bear.

Wyoming's Wind River Country

The Northern Arapaho tribe's casino is one of many businesses in Wyoming planning events to celebrate the Great American Solar Eclipse happening August 21. Wind River Hotel and Casino marketing director Jackie Dorothy said the reservation is a good place to see the eclipse because it’s in the path of totality, and it’s expected to last a bit longer athan elsewhere at two minutes and 19 seconds. The tribe plans to offer free Native American song and dance performances every day starting the Thursday before the eclipse, and each evening they’ll offer star viewing parties.

Last week, the Riverton Ranger reported that councilors from both tribes on the Wind River Indian Reservation signed a memorandum of understanding to help them manage their shared programs.

It’s the first time they'll manage them together since the Northern Arapaho disbanded the joint business council back in 2014.

Since the Joint Business Council was dissolved three years ago, the Northern Arapaho, the Eastern Shoshone, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs have been wrangling in the courts over how to move forward. The new MOU is an attempt to resolve those conflicts.

At an event on economic opportunities for the Wind River Reservation this week, keynote speaker and former Eastern Shoshone business Councilman Wes Martel said Wyoming’s two tribes are suffering from the same boom-and-bust cycles facing the rest of Wyoming. But he said, the reservation could have more control over what happens on their land. 

Darrah Perez

It's been two years since a white city employee opened fire at a Riverton detox center, killing one Native American and wounding another. To commemorate the tragedy, the community hosted a peace march.

About 80 people walked from the Center of Hope detox center down Main Street to the city park. Children carried signs that read, “Peace,” and “Lives Matter” and “Humanity 4 All.”

Organizer Ron Howard said the goal of the march was to raise awareness so the children of Riverton can grow up safely here.

Caroline Ballard

  

Fifteen-year-old Kade Clark stood shirtless at a water spigot outside the Niobrara County Fairgrounds in Lusk. He reached into a bucket full of red-brown dirt, grabbed a handful, and ran it under the water. Then, he began to paint himself.

“So we look like Indians and stuff. Yea you get it wet, it gets on easier,” said Clark.

Clark is white, and is one of the dozens of people, from toddlers to the elderly, playing Sioux Indians in The Legend of Rawhide, the annual July Pageant and Wild West re-enactment.

Melodie Edwards / Wyoming Public Radio

The National Congress of American Indians recently adopted a resolution to document the stories of Native American families who lost relatives during the boarding school era of the late 1800's through the 1970's. Those testimonies will then be submitted to the United Nations.

The hope is to heal the historical trauma of the boarding schools by getting the federal government to acknowledge and apologize for the harm they caused tribal communities.

Maggie Mullen

Throughout the month of June, the National Park Service asks visitors to refrain from climbing Devils Tower to respect American Indian ceremonies. However, the closure is voluntary and the number of climbers in June has been on a steady rise in recent years.

 

University of Wyoming Theater and Dance Department

A group of Native American high schoolers visiting the University of Wyoming for a recruitment program walked out of the production of a theater performance last week during a recruitment program event.

Incoming American Indian Director Angela Jaime attended the play as a coordinator for the Native American Summer Institute. She said she and the 40 students were shocked when the musical comedy The Fantasticks took a sudden turn midway through.

Native American Student Summit

Historically, many say the University of Wyoming has not been a supportive place for Native American students. In 2015, the UW Bookstore falsely accused several visiting Native American high schoolers of shoplifting during a recruitment visit. And a general lack of support has caused some tribal students like UW senior Mia Holt to feel unwelcome.  

 

Rebecca Huntington

On the Wind River Reservation, students are learning how to use futuristic tools to stretch the bounds of what's possible in the classroom.

What if you could put a swimming pool in the middle of your classroom?

“Me, me, me, me...” students gleefully shout.

That's just what students at the Arapahoe Elementary School couldn't wait to do...

“Let's be careful to not stand on the swimming pool,” a teacher says. “So now we're going to push select. I think we probably want a really big swimming pool so everybody can fit in it, right?”

Darrah Perez

The Weatherization Assistance Program is currently seeking applications from enrolled Northern Arapaho members who are homeowners living on the reservation. The program helps low income homeowners save on utility bills.

Tribes across the United States have weatherization programs, but here in Wyoming, the Northern Arapaho Tribe is one out of only three tribal communities who receive funds from the Department of Energy.

National Wildlife Federation

The first bison calf has been born to the new herd released onto the Wind River Reservation. The herd was released there last fall. For the Eastern Shoshone tribe, it’s a sign of the herd’s health since it was a hard winter on many wildlife.

Eastern Shoshone Tribal Bison Representative Jason Baldes said the herd was brought to Wyoming from a long grass prairie in Iowa, but that the species is hardy and adapted well to Wyoming’s high plains. He says the herd did receive some supplemental feeding though.

Baldes was there right after the calf was born.

Melodie Edwards

On July 3, 2013, 21-year-old Northern Cheyenne member Hannah Harris left her baby with her mom and went out. Hours later, she still hadn’t come back to breastfeed her child. The police investigation was slow to start a search and the family was forced to rely on word of mouth and social media. Still, it was five days before Harris was found, brutally beaten and raped, her body thrown in a ditch. 

Native Women's Society of the Great Plains

On February 12, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution designating a day of awareness for missing and murdered Native women on May 5, the birthday of Hanna Harris, a 21-year-old Northern Cheyenne woman who disappeared in 2013.

Carmen O’Leary, director of the Native Women’s Society of the Great Plains, said the resolution was passed in Harris' name.

Wyoming Indian High School

This past week, the Wyoming Department of Education held listening sessions at tribal schools to see how the state can better serve Native American families. Rob Black, social studies consultant with the WDE and liaison to the Native American community, said students on the reservation are a vulnerable population. Graduation rates and achievement levels there lag behind non-native communities.

Black said before addressing specific issues the WDE wanted to open up dialogue.

Pitchengine Communities

With most of the mountains in western Wyoming still covered in deep snow, communities downstream are bracing for the spring runoff. National Weather Service meteorologist Trevor LaVoie said it’s flooded along the Big and Little Wind Rivers every spring for the last six years. He said people living on the Wind River Reservation and in other communities along those rivers should begin preparing for flooding now.

Melodie Edwards

The controversial play “What Would Crazyhorse Do?” recently made its national debut in Laramie, of all places. Playwright and Lakota member Larissa Fasthorse said the script is her most widely read but no other theaters have actually performed it until now. She said that had a lot to do with the play's subject matter.

Racial purity.

Early in the play, after grieving the death of their grandfather, twins Calvin and Journey got a knock on their door.

“We don’t want any more funeral food!” shouted Journey.

University of Wyoming

After years of requests, administrators at the University of Wyoming have granted Native American students an American Indian Center on campus. The center will move into the Red House, a prominent location right across the street from campus.

Clay Scott

As a child on Montana's Crow Reservation, Peggy White Well Known Buffalo was taken from her home, put on a bus (the first she had ever seen) and sent to a Bureau of Indian Affairs boarding school out of state. She was punished for speaking her language, and for following traditional Crow spiritual practices. The experience, as it was for most Native kids, was a traumatic one. As an adult, Peggy has dedicated her life to helping Crow children connect with their history, their culture, their language and their place.

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