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. 

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.

Relative Theatrics

A Laramie theater troupe will offer the first ever performance of the play, “What Would Crazyhorse Do?” by Lakota playwright Larissa Fasthorse on March 30, 31, April 1 and April 6, 7 and 8.

It’s the story of a set of twins, the last two remaining members of a fictitious tribe, who are approached by the Ku Klux Klan to collaborate on preserving racial identity. Fasthorse said she was impressed that Laramie’s Relative Theatrics was brave enough to tackle such a controversial topic when, for five years, no other troupe would.

James Trosper

When University of Wyoming President Laurie Nichols was hired, Wyoming’s Native American community was encouraged to see she had a strong record of advocating for tribal students. Earlier this month, Nichols made a visit to Wind River Reservation to visit schools and talk to the business councils about several new initiatives to recruit kids there to attend UW.

Last week, Governor Matt Mead signed the Indian Education For All Act that requires the Wyoming Department of Education to teach the history and culture of Wyoming’s two tribes, the Eastern Shoshone and the Northern Arapaho.

University of Wyoming

Earlier this month, University of Wyoming President Laurie Nichols made a second visit to the Wind River Reservation to continue discussions about how to improve Native American enrollment at UW.

During Nichols’ previous tenure as University of South Dakota provost she set a goal of increasing Native American enrollment to better reflect the percentage of the state’s native population. Now, she’s set a similar goal at UW.

Melodie Edwards

The State Legislature, Thursday, was still in the process of passing a bill intended to better help social studies teachers in Wyoming include the Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone in their curriculum.

The bill passed the Senate, but with amended language that caused concern for Lander Representative Jim Allen who sponsored the bill.

Sheridan Senator Bruce Burns, whose district neighbors the Crow and Cheyenne reservations, pushed the Senate to strike Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone, and replace it with “tribes of the region.” 

The Faces From The Land

Photographs of Native Americans in full powwow regalia and make up will appear at an art opening in Buffalo tonight. Photographer Ben Marra said he started his career doing portraits, and so it came naturally to him to present powwow dancers with that kind of controlled lighting.

“I felt comfortable that way and it gave me more control,” Marra said. “And now we have probably the largest present day collection of this type of photographs in the world.”

The Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone tribes said they plan to work together to appeal a Tenth Circuit Court ruling made Wednesday declaring that the city of Riverton is not located within reservation boundaries.

A 1905 Act passed by Congress opened up 1.4 million acres of Wind River Reservation land for settlement to non-Indians. Then in 2013, the EPA ruled in an air quality study that the city of Riverton was part of that acreage and rightfully belonged within reservation boundaries.

P. SOLOMON BANDA, ASSOCIATED PRESS

Last week, legislators cut the salaries of two tribal liaison positions in half, from $160,000 to $80,000. Northern Arapaho liaison Sergio Maldonado has since resigned.

Only two years ago, lawmakers agreed to let the state take over the program, allowing the governor to appoint liaisons to represent the state’s two tribes instead of requiring the tribes to do so. Maldonado said he recognizes that the decision was financial and not personal, but he said the reduced salary will mean part-time pay for full-time work.

Micah Lott

As one of his first actions in office, President Trump signed an executive order granting his approval for the completion of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Then, on January 31, the Army Corp of Engineers announced they’d grant the final permit.

The next day, about 100 protesters clashed with Morton County Police. 23-year-old Northern Arapaho member Micah Lott from Wyoming was among them. Over the phone from North Dakota where he continues to protest the pipeline, Micah told Wyoming Public Radio’s Melodie Edwards the story of his arrest.

Melodie Edwards

The Housing and Urban Development Office has released a large scale study evaluating the severity of the housing crisis in Indian Country. It’s the most comprehensive research conducted on the subject and the only study of its kind in about 20 years. The study concludes there’s a need for about 68,000 new homes across tribal lands nationwide.

Darrah J. Perez

After years of poor health services, the Northern Arapaho tribe took over the management of their health clinic from the federal government. Last week the Wind River Family Community Health Center celebrated its first anniversary.   

Melodie Edwards

The Wyoming House of Representatives has started working on a bill that is intended to better help social studies teachers teach about the Tribes on the Wind River Reservation. 

The legislation provides the resources so that teachers across the state help students learn a number of things about the tribes and Native Americans. Some have expressed concern that it could burden already overworked teachers, House Floor Leader David Miller says it won’t.

Over the past few months, we’ve been looking at the housing crisis on the Wind River Indian Reservation. The shortage of homes there—and the lack of funding to build more--has led to overcrowding and homelessness. Many Native Americans are often forced to find rentals in border communities off the reservation. Even there they still struggle to find places to live because of racial discrimination.

  

On Monday, January 16 at 9 p.m., Wyoming PBS will air a new documentary set in Wyoming called What Was Ours, directed by Mat Hames. It’s about three Native Americans on the Wind River Indian Reservation and their relationship to artifacts and ceremonial objects and how hard it can be to keep such things within the tribe. Wyoming Public Radio’s Melodie Edwards spoke with two people who appear in the film, Northern Arapaho members Jordan Dresser and former Powwow Princess Mikala Sunrhodes.

Buffalo Bill Center of the West

William F. Cody, also known as Buffalo Bill, died in Denver, Colorado on January 10, 1917.  One hundred years later, his name adorns a 300,000 square foot museum complex in Cody, Wyoming: The Buffalo Bill Center of the West.

That complex holds a Buffalo Bill Museum, but it also houses a research library and four other Museums, featuring Western Art, Plains Indians, guns, and the wildlife and wild places of the Yellowstone area. What else did the world famous showman leave behind?

National Digital Library of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service

In December, the Northern Arapaho tribe sent a letter to a grizzly bear management subcommittee they sit on, casting their vote against a management plan that would be implemented if the bear is removed from the endangered species list.

Angus Thuermer / WyoFile

In this week’s issue of the online magazine WyoFile, reporter Angus Thuermer talks about his trek to the Dakota Access Pipeline protests. There he met and talked with Native American activists from Wyoming’s tribes. Melodie Edwards talked to him about what it was like to arrive at the camp in extremely harsh winter conditions.

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

Last week, the Northern Arapaho tribe issued a statement expressing frustration about being left out of a meeting on removing the grizzly bear from the Endangered Species List. The disagreement has left some people wondering if grizzly delisting could be the Dakota Access Pipeline of Wyoming in which local tribes assert themselves as sovereign nations.

 

Yufna Soldier Wolf is the director of the Northern Arapaho Tribal Historic Preservation Office, which might make you wonder, what's so historic about grizzly bears? 

commons.wikimedia.org

The Northern Arapaho Tribal Historic Preservation Office has expressed frustration with not being invited to a meeting on delisting the grizzly bear in Cody in November. Preservation Director Yufna Soldier Wolf said under a new policy adopted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service last year, the Traditional Ecological Knowledge of local tribes must be considered in such decisions.

Melodie Edwards

There’s a housing crisis going on at the Wind River Indian Reservation in central Wyoming. For its fast growing population of 15,000 residents, there aren’t nearly enough homes to go around, and very little funding to build more. The problem has led to high rates of homelessness in Fremont County. But on rural reservations like Wind River, homelessness doesn’t look much like it does in big cities.

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