Almost five years ago, the Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone tribes submitted an application to the federal government asking for the Wind River Indian Reservation to be treated as a separate state for monitoring air quality. They're still waiting on a response.
Eastern Shoshone tribe chairman Darwin St. Clair says it’s a matter of tribal sovereignty as well as stewardship of their land. He says with a coal power plant and oil and gas fields nearby, air quality is a high priority.
School officials from the Wind River Reservation admit they have problems graduating students and with educating students, but they also say they are slowly making progress. School officials told a meeting of two legislative committees that more early education and more involvement with parents. But they all say that socio-economic factors also play a role. Wyoming Interim Education Director Jim Rose says resolving that issue will be tricky.
The Tribal Energy Development and Self-Determination Act Amendments of 2012 have passed the Senate Indian Affairs Committee. The Act aims to simplify and expedite the process of leasing for energy development on tribal land. U.S. Senator John Barrasso introduced it last October.
In a February letter to the Department of Energy, Gov. Matt Mead expressed concern that the passive handling of uranium contamination on the Wind River Reservation might not be living up to the DOE’s remedial action plan.
The DOE asserted that the site would clean itself up after 100 years, and despite that uranium tailings were removed from the site decades ago, spikes in uranium were measured in DOE monitoring wells in 2010.
In the wake of a congressional hearing over a draft report by the Environmental Protection Agency that links hydraulic fracturing with water contamination in the town of Pavillion, the Wind River Tribes are pushing to take a bigger role in the investigation.