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. 

Sydney Pursel

The Ucross Foundation artist residency program in northern Wyoming has announced the winner of its first Native American visual artist fellowship award. Sydney Pursel will spend a month at Ucross, receive a $1,000 stipend and show her work in their gallery.

Pursel is a member of the Iowa Tribe, and said a lot of her early work wrestled with tribal identity.

AMY MARTIN

The Yellowstone National Park has initiated a criminal investigation into the release of bison from a quarantine facility. Early Tuesday morning, park officials discovered 52 bison missing. Park officials said the bison were able to leave the containment area through a cut fence, suggesting someone explicitly freed the bison.

 

University of Wyoming

After years of going without one, the University of Wyoming has hired a new Native American Program Advisor. President Laurie Nichols has said the goal is to try to increase the Native student enrollment so that it better reflects the Native population in the state.

Yellowstone National Park Emblem Sticker
National Park Service

A coalition of tribal and conservation groups is asking a judge to restore federal protections for Greater Yellowstone grizzly bears, as it also asks the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), to restore federal protections on their own.

University of Wyoming

At the end of last semester, the University of Wyoming hired Wind River tribal member Reinette Tendore to recruit Native American students and help them feel more welcome on campus.

Kamila Kudelska

In 2006, Montana granted permission to two tribes to hunt on federal public lands near Yellowstone National Park. This was due to a treaty that was agreed upon in 1855 that includes tribes from the Pacific Northwest. The Yakama Nation is the first tribe from Washington state to join in on the hunt. Those tribal members drew tags in November and recently traveled to Yellowstone to exercise their right to hunt buffalo on public land for the first time.

The Eastern Shoshone tribe is moving to adopt the Violence Against Women Act in an effort to better prosecute sexual assaults of Native women from the Wind River Reservation. The hope is that the law will help overcome a jurisdiction gap between tribal and federal justice systems.

Darrah Perez

The Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone Tribes recently held a conference to empower their community to stand up against drugs and alcohol. On November 2, a war staff was passed to the Wyoming tribes of the Wind River Reservation by the Crow Tribe of Montana. The tribes believe with prayer and the creation of the war staff, paired with an event such as a conference, they can help address addiction, safety, and community healing.

Sunny Goggles Director of the White Buffalo Program said further education about drugs and alcohol is important.

Darrah Perez

The holiday season can be tough for people grieving loved ones, but it can be especially difficult for those of the LGBTQ community.

Layha Spoonhunter is one of the Two-Spirit Leadership Circle members, an LGBTQ group on Wind River Reservation that recently gathered to honor those who have been killed because of their identity.

“I have seen changes through our community, but I haven’t seen them at the rapid rate I want to see,” said Spoonhunter.

Darrah Perez

Two-days before Christmas, 400 holiday baskets filled with turkey, cranberry, stuffing, and pie were given to elders on the Wind River Reservation.

The snow falling on the Wind River Reservation did not stop a group of community members from delivering the holiday baskets. Stephen Fasthorse helped organize the event with the help of community members, the Wind River Casino and the Northern Arapaho Tribe.

“Embracing the Elders is a grassroots group that wanted to find a way to show appreciation for the elderly people on the Wind River Reservation,” Fasthorse said.

Associated Press

Only about 50 percent of Native American students graduate high school, compared to 80 percent of white students. That’s one reason why the Wyoming Department of Education teamed up with the North Central Comprehensive Center, a national education contractor, to conduct listening sessions in each of the three school districts on the Wind River Reservation.

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.

 

Darrah Perez

Half of American Indians living in native majority areas say they or a family member feel they’ve been treated unfairly by the courts, according to a new poll by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. It’s a lack of justice that Wind River Reservation residents say they live with every day. Now the tribes are working together to solve the problem.

One morning, Northern Arapaho member Rose was sitting at the table with her 14-year-old daughter, Latoya.

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.

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