Wind River Indian Reservation

Darrah Perez

Nationally, there’s a shortage of about 68,000 homes on tribal reservations, and on the Wind River Reservation, both the Northern Arapaho and the Eastern Shoshone tribes are hundreds of homes short. That’s led to severe overcrowding and homelessness there.

Darrah Perez

The Northern Arapaho Tribe brought back the Indian National Finals Tour Rodeo in hopes it would be an event to bring the Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone tribes closer together.

Northern Arapaho Tribe

The Northern Arapaho Tribe on the Wind River Reservation has filed a lawsuit against some of the country’s biggest opioid manufacturers and distributors. 

The Eastern Shoshone tribe is moving to adopt the Violence Against Women Act in an effort to better prosecute sexual assaults of Native women from the Wind River Reservation. The hope is that the law will help overcome a jurisdiction gap between tribal and federal justice systems.

Darrah Perez

The holiday season can be tough for people grieving loved ones, but it can be especially difficult for those of the LGBTQ community.

Layha Spoonhunter is one of the Two-Spirit Leadership Circle members, an LGBTQ group on Wind River Reservation that recently gathered to honor those who have been killed because of their identity.

“I have seen changes through our community, but I haven’t seen them at the rapid rate I want to see,” said Spoonhunter.

Darrah Perez

Two-days before Christmas, 400 holiday baskets filled with turkey, cranberry, stuffing, and pie were given to elders on the Wind River Reservation.

The snow falling on the Wind River Reservation did not stop a group of community members from delivering the holiday baskets. Stephen Fasthorse helped organize the event with the help of community members, the Wind River Casino and the Northern Arapaho Tribe.

“Embracing the Elders is a grassroots group that wanted to find a way to show appreciation for the elderly people on the Wind River Reservation,” Fasthorse said.

Associated Press

Only about 50 percent of Native American students graduate high school, compared to 80 percent of white students. That’s one reason why the Wyoming Department of Education teamed up with the North Central Comprehensive Center, a national education contractor, to conduct listening sessions in each of the three school districts on the Wind River Reservation.

junaidrao on Flickr

After allegations of sexual assault piled up against Harvey Weinstein, Wind River movie director Taylor Sheridan announced he would donate all future royalties to a Montana-based Native American women’s advocacy group. The film was originally distributed by the Weinstein Company and is about the rape and murder of a Northern Arapaho woman.

Lucy Simpson, director of the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center, said her organization is still in shock over the announcement.

Darrah Perez

Half of American Indians living in native majority areas say they or a family member feel they’ve been treated unfairly by the courts, according to a new poll by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. It’s a lack of justice that Wind River Reservation residents say they live with every day. Now the tribes are working together to solve the problem.

One morning, Northern Arapaho member Rose was sitting at the table with her 14-year-old daughter, Latoya.

Photo by Jimmy Emerson, DVM via CC BY-NC-ND 2 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/

Last February, the 10th Circuit Court ruled that the city of Riverton is not inside the Wind River Reservation boundaries, prompting the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes to ask for another hearing. This week, the court rejected that request. Wind River Native Advocacy Center board chair Sergio Maldonado said the next step for the dispute is the U.S. Supreme Court.

Darrah Perez

The Wyoming Arts Council recently hosted 50 Years of Art in Lander. Director Michael Lange said the summit emphasized that it is looking to the future, by connecting arts from people with different social and cultural backgrounds, giving them the means to learn from each other.

Wyoming artist Robert Martinez is co-founder of the Northern Arapaho Artists Society and the Creative Indigenous Collective, and he is also one of the recipients of the 2018 Art Fellowship for the Wyoming Art Council.

Darrah Perez

Wind River Reservation resident Clarisse Harris was one of the 40 participants who attended the “Against Racism” workshop put on by the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond. She says she attended the workshop thinking even she could be racist, but after attending the workshop, Harris came away thinking she wasn’t.

Only six of the 40 workshop attendees were non-native, two of them from Fremont County. Community member Chesie Lee says she was disappointed more non-natives community members didn’t attend.

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.

Melodie Edwards

After numerous requests by the Northern Arapaho tribe, the remains of children buried in a cemetery at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Pennsylvania in the late 1800’s have been returned to them so they could re-bury them on the Wind River Indian Reservation. Last month, the army college that now owns the former boarding school and graveyard agreed to exhume three of the graves.

Central Wyoming College

 

Central Wyoming College in Riverton sits in a very unique spot in the state: right next door to the Wind River Indian Reservation. Many of its students are Native American. But now, the school is stepping up to do even more for the tribal community and are well underway in designing a program to educate future Native leaders.

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

Wyoming Department of Education

Educators, community leaders and students gathered this week for the 8th annual Native American Education Conference at the St. Stephen’s Indian School outside Riverton. The two-day event focused on promoting understanding, building relationships and generating ideas about how to best support Native American students.

 

Rob Black is the Native American liaison for the Wyoming Department of Education, and he helped organize the conference. He said while the conference focuses on solutions, it doesn’t shy away from the hard stuff.

 

Leslie Shakespeare

Northern Arapaho Chairman Roy Brown and Eastern Shoshone Chairman Leslie Shakespeare both attended the world premiere of the new movie Wind River on July 26 at the Ace Hotel Theatre in Los Angeles. The film depicts hardship and violence on Wyoming’s Wind River Reservation.

Chairman Roy Brown said Wind River tells a fictional story of a missing and murdered woman in the Wind River Reservation. Only seats away from the film’s actors at the Los Angeles premiere, he was glad to see a film that focused on social issues that are not often talked about.

Wyoming's Wind River Country

The Northern Arapaho tribe's casino is one of many businesses in Wyoming planning events to celebrate the Great American Solar Eclipse happening August 21. Wind River Hotel and Casino marketing director Jackie Dorothy said the reservation is a good place to see the eclipse because it’s in the path of totality, and it’s expected to last a bit longer athan elsewhere at two minutes and 19 seconds. The tribe plans to offer free Native American song and dance performances every day starting the Thursday before the eclipse, and each evening they’ll offer star viewing parties.

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.

At an event on economic opportunities for the Wind River Reservation this week, keynote speaker and former Eastern Shoshone business Councilman Wes Martel said Wyoming’s two tribes are suffering from the same boom-and-bust cycles facing the rest of Wyoming. But he said, the reservation could have more control over what happens on their land. 

Darrah Perez

It's been two years since a white city employee opened fire at a Riverton detox center, killing one Native American and wounding another. To commemorate the tragedy, the community hosted a peace march.

About 80 people walked from the Center of Hope detox center down Main Street to the city park. Children carried signs that read, “Peace,” and “Lives Matter” and “Humanity 4 All.”

Organizer Ron Howard said the goal of the march was to raise awareness so the children of Riverton can grow up safely here.

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?”

The Modern West 23: The Native West, Part 1

May 16, 2017
Aaron Schrank

Part one of two-part series, featuring stories that take us into the heart of the Wind River Reservation.

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 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.

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.

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.

Alexis Bonogofsky

For as long as 75-year-old Dick Baldes can remember, his tribe has tried to bring wild bison back to the Wind River Indian Reservation.

“Some of the old timers would talk about that and how important the bison was. I mean, that’s always been that way,” said Baldes.

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.

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