Northern Arapaho

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.

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

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.

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.

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.” 

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.

  

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.

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.

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.

Associated Press

Northern Arapahoe Schools have launched an iPad application that will help teach both children and teachers the Arapahoe language.

Currently only one percent of Northern Arapaho members speak their language fluently. To grow that number, last May schools gave students in Pre-K through 12th grade 450 iPads installed with a new app that teaches the Arapaho Language.

In our language, our words are strong, they are powerful,” said Wayne C’Hair, an Arapaho elder.

“Sometimes it takes four English words to make one Arapaho word.”

Northern Arapaho Tribe

Eight women ran in the recent tribal primary election and two have advanced to the general election. Currently, no women serve on the Northern Arapaho Business Council and only four women have ever served. 

Clarinda Calling Thunder is one of the two finalists. She said there's still a reluctance to vote women into leadership roles. 

Melodie Edwards

Wyoming educators will have access to a new curriculum focused on conveying an accurate history of the state’s two tribes. 

Wyoming PBS collaborated with Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribal leaders to create videos showing native elders and educators discussing the history, culture and government of each tribe. Each of the six videos comes with follow-up lesson plans aligning with Wyoming state standards. 

Bureau of Indian Affairs

A tribal court judge issued an order Thursday that prevents the Eastern Shoshone tribe from making management decisions about programs shared with the Northern Arapaho tribe.

The tribes share the Wind River Reservation, but two years ago the Northern Arapaho left the Joint Business Council, which had cooperatively managed the court system, the wildlife department and other programs on behalf of both tribes.

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. 

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.

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. 

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.”

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.

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.

Alejandra Silver / Riverton Ranger, Inc.

    

Next Thursday in Fort Washakie on the Wind River Indian Reservation, tribal and non-tribal community members will gather together to talk about how to solve the problem of escalating racial tensions in the area. The U.S. Justice Department offered to sponsor the meetings following the shooting of two Northern Arapaho men by a white man last summer at a detox center in Riverton. The forums are part of a four-part curriculum intended to build toward a set of practical goals that the community can agree to implementing.

Melodie Edwards

The state of Wyoming along with the Northern Arapaho and the Eastern Shoshone tribes have successfully submitted an application for a Medicaid Waiver.

If the Center for Medicaid and Medicare approves the application, the Medicaid Waiver could inject almost $17 million dollars a year into tribal health services on the Wind River Indian Reservation where there’s a severe shortage of healthcare providers.

Flickr

Back in 1881, hundreds of Northern Arapaho children were taken from the Wind River Indian Reservation in central Wyoming to the Carlisle Boarding School in Pennsylvania to be assimilated into European culture, but many never returned. Now the tribe is applying to reclaim the remains of 41 of the students who died there.

Yufna Soldier Wolf is the director of the Northern Arapaho Tribal Historic Preservation Office. She says she doesn’t expect the process to be easy.

Ten years ago, a young Arapaho man was charged with killing an eagle without a permit for a Sun Dance ceremony. The Northern Arapaho tribe decided it was their duty to stand behind any tribal member legitimately practicing their tribal religion and a federal court agreed with them.

But now, the United States is appealing the decision.  

In a recent press release, Northern Arapaho Chairman Dean Goggles says quote “eagles are an important part of [the tribe’s] most sacred ceremonies” and says the decision to take an eagle is never undertaken lightly.

Blue Mountain Associates

Through a $2.5 million dollar grant, the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes will be able to study the health benefits of starting backyard gardens. The project is called Growing Resilience and is a collaboration between tribal health groups, the University of Wyoming and the nonprofit, Action Resources International.

Andrew Cowell

 

 

The Arapaho language is one of many indigenous languages considered endangered. But a new book of bilingual Arapaho stories attempts to help the problem by collecting hundreds of songs and prayers into one place.

Andrew Cowell

This week, Riverton will host a conference on how to save the native languages of indigenous peoples across the globe. It’s the first time in its 22 year history that the “Stabilizing Indigenous Languages” symposium has been held in Wyoming. Last year it took place in Hawaii.

Linguist Andrew Cowell from the University of Colorado says indigenous speakers are expected to come from all over the world to discuss new strategies for rescuing dying languages.

Pages