Shoshone

Melodie Edwards

  

Look around Lynette St. Clair's Shoshone language and culture classroom at Wyoming Indian Middle School, and you’ll see this isn’t the usual Wyoming social studies class. There’s vintage photos of famous Shoshone people, a miniature tepee, and the white board is scribbled with Shoshone words and translations. And what the kids are learning is unusual too. The students are reading a speech by Shoshone chief Washakie from the 19th century. St. Clair teaches them key words from the speech in Shoshone.

Aaron Schrank

In most schools, campaigns to keep students from smoking use simple slogans like “Be Smart, Don’t Start,” but those targeting Native American kids are a bit different. On Wyoming’s Wind River Indian Reservation, you’re likely to hear more nuanced catchphrases like “Keep It Sacred,” and “Traditional Use, Not Commercial Abuse.”

That’s because tobacco is an indispensable part of many Native American traditions. But with sky-high smoking rates on reservations, Wyoming Public Radio’s Aaron Schrank reports that the need to limit nontraditional tobacco use is greater than ever. 

Tim Hulsen, Flickr Creative Commons

Let’s go back--way back--to 1868. The Northern Arapaho tribe has survived not only the Sand Creek Massacre but decades of war with the US Army. They’re an exhausted people. In the middle of winter, the US Army decides to move them across Shoshone territory to Oklahoma.

“Well, you know Wyoming winters,” says John Washakie, great grandson of Chief Washakie and longtime Shoshone Councilman. He’s also a tribal storyteller. “They’re very cold. The horses were not in the best of shape. Some of the children and women were ill.”

The federal government is trying to create a better system for pricing oil and gas on Indian reservations. The Office of Natural Resource Revenue brought together government, tribes and the energy industry to write the new rule. 

Claire Ware is the Director of the Shoshone-Arapahoe Tribes Minerals Compliance Program and sat on the committee.  She says the old rules put tribes at a disadvantage.   

The deadline for public comments for the proposed Shoshone National Forest plan is Monday.  It’s the first plan for the forest in 25 years. 

The plan has generated a lot of interest from multiple-use groups who want to expand areas of access.  The Sierra Club’s Connie Wilbert believes the plan could allow more motorized use, and that concerns her.

"The problem is that the illegal, unauthorized trails that go off of the legal trails are an enormous problem on the forest right now,” Wilbert said. “They’re getting worse every year."

A federal judge must decide a dispute between two Wyoming Indian tribes ... over whether eagles may be killed on the Wind River Reservation for religious purposes.

Judge Alan Johnson of Cheyenne heard arguments Friday in a lawsuit the Northern Arapaho Tribe is pressing against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The federal agency issued a permit to the Northern Arapaho this spring specifying the tribe could kill two bald eagles for its annual Sun Dance. It was the nation's first bald eagle permit for religious purposes.

A federal judge will allow Eastern Shoshone Tribe to challenge the Northern Arapaho Tribe’s plan to sue for the right to kill bald eagles on the reservation they share.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued a permit to the Northern Arapaho Tribe allowing them to kill two bald eagles annually for religious purposes, as long as they do so outside the reservation they share with the Shoshone. Because Wyoming state law prohibits the killing of eagles on state land, the Northern Arapaho are suing Fish and Wildlife for the right to kill the eagles on the reservation.

Parts of the Shoshone National Forest in northwest Wyoming are now off-limits to domestic goats, which some people use to haul gear into the backcountry.

Forest officials announced the decision for pack goats Monday and say it will remain in effect through 2013.

The purpose is to protect wild bighorn sheep. Forest officials say there is increasing evidence that domestic sheep and goats can spread disease to bighorn sheep.

The Shoshone National Forest is home to one of the largest populations of bighorn sheep in the lower 48 states.