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. 

junaidrao on Flickr

After allegations of sexual assault piled up against Harvey Weinstein, Wind River movie director Taylor Sheridan announced he would donate all future royalties to a Montana-based Native American women’s advocacy group. The film was originally distributed by the Weinstein Company and is about the rape and murder of a Northern Arapaho woman.

Lucy Simpson, director of the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center, said her organization is still in shock over the announcement.

Sheridan College

In late September, two Native American women enrolled at Sheridan College were the target of multiple incidents of racist hate speech. Thursday, Sheridan College President Paul Young announced an action plan to address inclusion and safety for all students on campus.

 

Photo by Jimmy Emerson, DVM via CC BY-NC-ND 2 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/

Last February, the 10th Circuit Court ruled that the city of Riverton is not inside the Wind River Reservation boundaries, prompting the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes to ask for another hearing. This week, the court rejected that request. Wind River Native Advocacy Center board chair Sergio Maldonado said the next step for the dispute is the U.S. Supreme Court.

Darrah Perez

The Wyoming Arts Council recently hosted 50 Years of Art in Lander. Director Michael Lange said the summit emphasized that it is looking to the future, by connecting arts from people with different social and cultural backgrounds, giving them the means to learn from each other.

Wyoming artist Robert Martinez is co-founder of the Northern Arapaho Artists Society and the Creative Indigenous Collective, and he is also one of the recipients of the 2018 Art Fellowship for the Wyoming Art Council.

Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum

Comic books get kids reading and thinking about complex issues. That's definitely the case for an art show now up at the Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum. All the comic book art in this show is by Native American artists.

 

The museum's marketing director Morgan Marks gave Wyoming Public Radio's Melodie Edwards a tour that started with the illustrated robe of the great Eastern Shoshone Chief Washakie, showing just how deeply ingrained picture storytelling is in Native American cultures.

Jackson Hole’s annual SHIFT Festival kicked off this week with Native American leaders defending Bears Ears National Monument. Each year, SHIFT gathers outdoor enthusiasts from around the nation. This year, Native American leaders took center stage.

Darrah Perez

Wind River Reservation resident Clarisse Harris was one of the 40 participants who attended the “Against Racism” workshop put on by the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond. She says she attended the workshop thinking even she could be racist, but after attending the workshop, Harris came away thinking she wasn’t.

Only six of the 40 workshop attendees were non-native, two of them from Fremont County. Community member Chesie Lee says she was disappointed more non-natives community members didn’t attend.

Darrah Perez

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the National Wildlife Federation and the Eastern Shoshone Tribe invited participants to witness the release of ten more bison south of Pilot Butte on the Wind River Reservation.

Jola Lebeau, an Eastern Shoshone tribal member, said a prayer before the release of the ten bison.

“Grandfather Creator you see us here, we are standing here with the sun to the east, that gateway of love. We thank you for this beautiful day and that the buffalo that came here from Montana, that they will love living here upon our lands,”Lebeau said.

Alexis Bonogofsky

It’s been almost a year since the Eastern Shoshone Tribe released its first ten bison onto 300 acres of the Wind River Reservation. Next week, the tribe will release ten more. This time, though, the animals will come from the National Bison Range in Montana. The last batch came from a herd in Iowa.

Jason Baldes with the Eastern Shoshone Tribal Buffalo Restoration Program said the goal is to build a genetically pure herd by getting animals from different places.

Darrah Perez

 

Large crowds turned out for the grand opening of the new Native American Education, Research and Cultural Center on the University of Wyoming campus. Eastern Shoshone elder Stanford Devinney blessed the new center with a prayer while the building received a cedaring ceremony from Northern Arapaho elder Crawford White.

Melodie Edwards

On the Wind River Reservation, on the far edge of a wind-swept cemetery filled with white crosses and colorful flowers, a fresh mound blended in with all the others. It was surrounded with stones and gifts. 

“[A] little buckskin horse, I believe that's a bracelet and some tobacco pouches,” said Olivia Washington as she bent down and arranged the gifts around a metal plaque with the name Horse.

Anna Rader

As part of its effort to improve the quality of education for Native American students on campus, the University of Wyoming will host a grand opening of its new Native American Center this Friday, September 29.

Wyoming’s first Native American woman legislator, State Representative Affie Ellis, will serve as master of ceremonies and the student group, Keepers of the Fire, will offer a Native American hoop dance. 

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.

 

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