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. 

A federal court decision is expected next week that could decide how the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs can and can’t manage the affairs of the Northern Arapaho, now that the tribe has dissolved their Joint Business Council with the Eastern Shoshone.

Two years ago, the Northern Arapaho walked away from a Joint Business Council with the Eastern Shoshone, saying the Northern Arapaho tribe was growing faster and needed more independence. Both the Eastern Shoshone and the Bureau of Indian Affairs claimed the Northern Arapaho had no right to do that. 

Jordan Vandjelovic, Rocky Mountain Tribal Epidemiology Center

Health officials from the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes have a new tool to help them improve the health of residents on the Wind River Reservation. Several health advocates recently attended a training to learn how to use software from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to better collect information about health care on the reservation.

Amy Sisk

Opposition to the Dakota Access pipeline continues to grow beyond its North Dakota roots, with solidarity protests Tuesday in dozens of cities across the country and the world.

A new documentary that premiered in Wyoming on September 9 and 10, tells the stories of three Native Americans from the Wind River Indian Reservation and their quest to find and reclaim tribal artifacts locked away in museums and other storage facilities.

Mat Hames is the director of the new film, What Was Ours, which was commissioned by Wyoming PBS. Hames says the film follows an Eastern Shoshone elder and two Northern Arapaho youths, a journalist and a powwow princess, as they track down artifacts that belonged to Native Americans at the turn of the last century.

Luke Brown

  

From the beginning, tribes from Wyoming's Wind River Indian Reservation have been participating in protests to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline. Wyoming Public Radio’s Melodie Edwards interviewed Wind River Native Advocacy Center Director Jason Baldes two weeks ago about how his organization has sent several groups of people to participate in demonstrations.

Andrew Cullen

 

Hundreds of people gathered on the lawn outside the North Dakota Capitol in Bismarck Friday afternoon for what was supposed to be a protest over construction of the $3.7-billion Dakota Access pipeline.

Melodie Edwards

Overcrowding in homes on the Wind River Reservation is a real problem, as seen in the first story in our “Reservation Housing Shortage” series. In the early 2000s, the number of homes with more than six people living in them grew by 5% for Eastern Shoshone homes and by over 10% for Northern Arapaho. And the reason is, there just aren’t enough houses on the reservation.

Standing Rock Sioux

Both tribes on the Wind River Reservation have submitted letters of support for the Standing Rock Sioux in the Dakotas. That tribe is protesting the development of an oil pipeline under the Missouri River, their main water source.

Phillip Breker PhotoRX

After years of working as a chef in ethnic restaurants, Sioux tribal member Sean Sherman had an “ah-ha” moment. He suddenly wondered why there were no Native American restaurants, especially since pre-European contact foods are uniquely healthy. Now, Sherman is raising money through a Kickstarter Campaign to open one and he’s calling it The Sioux Chef.

Melodie Edwards

The two tribes on the Wind River Indian Reservation are growing and prospering. The Northern Arapaho is expected to reach 11,000 this year, the Eastern Shoshone is almost 5,000 strong. But while the number of people has been expanding, the number of homes where all those people can live has not. The situation has led to severe overcrowding, and the social problems that come with that. 

85-year-old Northern Arapaho elder Kenneth Shakespeare has lived in this house north of Arapaho with its view of the mountains and fertile hayfields for a lot of years. 

Ortegon

  

This week the University of Wyoming hosted a summer institute for an organization that supports women of color in academia. One of the guest speakers was Sarah Ortegon, artist and former Miss Native American USA. Wyoming Public Radio’s Maggie Mullen spoke with Ortegon about her paintings currently exhibited at the UW Art Museum, partly inspired by her childhood on the Wind River Reservation. Her work will be exhibited until September 2.

nps.gov

Wyoming’s tribes are skeptical of a Native American wildlife group’s plan to expand the range of grizzly bears onto tribal lands throughout the West. Guardians of Our Ancestor’s Legacy or GOAL has proposed putting any grizzlies Wyoming considers over its population limit on reservations.

Jason Baldes is the director of the Wind River Native Advocacy Center and the son of a longtime wildlife manager on the reservation. He says the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes are lucky to have lots of great habitat for grizzly bears.

Melodie Edwards

Out under the cottonwoods in her backyard near Fort Washakie, Eastern Shoshone member Pat Bergie shows off her new raised-bed garden.

“Those are the tomatoes, strawberries,” she says, pointing at the rows of small seedlings. “Over here, I’d done some cabbage inside. I brought them out and planted them and those are what’s gone.”

Gone because birds came and gobbled them up.

“The big ones, the magpies are the ones that went out,” she says, laughing. “They’re the hoggy ones.”

University of Wyoming

  

Earlier this month, the University of Wyoming’s new president Laurie Nichols visited the Wind River Indian Reservation and sat down with business councils from both the Eastern Shoshone and the Northern Arapaho to talk about how to get the Native American student body to better reflect Wyoming’s population of Native Americans overall.

She told Wyoming Public Radio's Melodie Edwards, it’s an issue she’s tackled before in her time as South Dakota State University’s provost.

University of Wyoming

  

The University of Wyoming’s new president, Laurie Nichols, recently met with tribal leaders to talk about recruiting more Native American students to the school. In her previous position as provost at South Dakota State University, Nichols says welcoming Native students was a big priority, and she’d like to do the same at UW.

She says both the Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone business councils explained that their tribal populations are growing, and that means a lot more young people will be reaching college age in the coming years.

Carol S. Bock

A national Native American conservation group says grizzly bears shouldn’t be removed from the Endangered Species List, but instead should expand the bear’s range onto tribal lands.

Ben Nuvamsa is a former Hopi councilman and a spokesman for Guardians of Our Ancestor’s Legacy or GOAL. He said the grizzly plays an intricate role in the belief systems of many tribes.

Melodie Edwards

Kids and horses gather on a dusty riding ground on a ridge overlooking the snow-capped Wind River Range. Northern Arapaho Social Services Director Allison Sage starts the day’s ride as he always does: with a prayer and introductions.

“We’re using Arapaho language,” he says. “We’re saying nee'eesih'inoo. That means ‘my name is.’ So you say, nee'eesih'inoo and then how you feel.”

Northern Arapaho officials on the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming say they've experienced some bumps since the tribe took over management of their federal health clinic earlier this year.

The Northern Arapaho Tribe has been working for many years to get full management of their health care system. In January, they finally took over for the Indian Health Services. Tribal Administrator Vonda Wells says the federal government has controlled the tribe’s health system since they were placed on the Wind River Reservation in the late 1800’s.

A conference next week in Riverton will explore the enormous health gap on the Wind River Indian Reservation. The life expectancy of Native Americans there is only 52 years old, compared to the national average of 78 years old. Northern Arapaho Social Services Director Allison Sage says the conference will bring together doctors, teachers, traditional healers and others to collaborate on solutions. He says there's especially a need for more doctors and better preventative and prenatal care.

Adrienne Vetter

A provocative collection of digitally altered historical photographs has a closing reception in Pinedale this weekend. Artists Colleen Friday and Adrienne Vetter create digitally altered historical images inspired by their own upbringings.

Wikimedia Commons

The Northern Arapaho tribe last week won a case in a federal court when the U.S. government dropped an appeal over the tribe’s right to occasionally kill eagles for religious purposes.

The tribe challenged the government in 2012 when a young Northern Arapaho man was charged with killing an eagle that he intended to use in a Sun Dance ceremony.

Courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution via Flickr Creative Commons

The remains of Northern Arapahoe children who died more than a century ago at a boarding school in Pennsylvania can finally return home. That’s what Army officials told tribal representatives at a meeting Tuesday in South Dakota.

More than 200 Native American children from various tribes—including at least three Northern Arapahoe—are buried at the Carlisle Indian Boarding School. Today, the land belongs to the U.S. Army War College.

NAWHERC

April is sexual assault awareness month, and a Native advocacy group is handing out free copies of a new booklet on reservations around the country called “What To Do When You’re Raped: An ABC Handbook for Native Girls.”           

NAWHERC

  

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, a good time to talk with the editor of a new book being handed out for free to Native women around the country called What To Do When You’re Raped: An ABC Handbook For Native Girls

Wyoming Highway Patrol Association

  

The Wyoming Highway Patrol recently completed a training certifying officers to work on the Wind River Indian Reservation. The goal is to help Wind River police make reservation highways safer, especially for kids.

Highway Patrol Captain Tom Pritchard says the training will help them support the Wind River Police Department by patrolling for impaired drivers and children without seat belts.

Aaron Schrank

University of Wyoming senior Ashlee Enos is in a crowded campus ballroom, watching a hip-hop artist from the Crow Nation who goes by the name ‘Supaman’ do his thing.

“I think it’s awesome that we have someone who’s so into the culture, and wants to give cultural awareness to the public,” Enos says.

Enos is a member of the Eastern Shoshone tribe. She says there aren’t many others at UW.

“It’s a very small number,” she says. “Maybe less than five.”

Less than one percent of total students here identify solely as American Indian—just 91 of more than 13,000.

Aaron Schrank

Jane Juve makes her morning rounds through the same building where she served as Riverton’s city attorney two decades ago. Now she’s the Riverton Police Department’s new ‘community relations ombudsman.’

“If you feel like your civil rights have been violated, you’re more than welcome to come to my office in city hall,” Juve says.

A series of community dialogues to combat racism in towns surrounding the Wind River Indian Reservation in Riverton is gaining steam. Organizers say the meetings are going so well, they plan to continue hosting them indefinitely.

The U.S. Justice Department suggested hosting the dialogues after a shooting at a detox center last summer by a white city employee that left one Northern Arapaho man dead and another severely injured.

Courtesy Sherman Indian High School

This is part two of a series. Listen to part one here.

At the start of his senior year at Wyoming Indian High School, Tim O’Neal was struggling.

“I was just drinking, partying, trying to be cool,” says O’Neal. “It messed with my schoolwork. My whole class schedule—all seven classes—I was failing and there was no way I could make up the grades, so I just asked my parents if I would be able to go to a boarding school.”

Melodie Edwards

It’s standing room only in a large conference room in Riverton, Wyoming. Up front, people mill around a display of old photographs of Arapaho children sent to Carlisle Boarding School in the late 1880’s. One is a before-and-after photo of a boy in braids wearing feathers and jewelry; a second, same boy, now in a starched suit and short Ivy League haircut.

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