Wind River Indian Reservation

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.

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.

Jordan Vandjelovic, Rocky Mountain Tribal Epidemiology Center

Health officials from the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes have a new tool to help them improve the health of residents on the Wind River Reservation. Several health advocates recently attended a training to learn how to use software from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to better collect information about health care on the reservation.

A new documentary that premiered in Wyoming on September 9 and 10, tells the stories of three Native Americans from the Wind River Indian Reservation and their quest to find and reclaim tribal artifacts locked away in museums and other storage facilities.

Mat Hames is the director of the new film, What Was Ours, which was commissioned by Wyoming PBS. Hames says the film follows an Eastern Shoshone elder and two Northern Arapaho youths, a journalist and a powwow princess, as they track down artifacts that belonged to Native Americans at the turn of the last century.

Luke Brown

  

From the beginning, tribes from Wyoming's Wind River Indian Reservation have been participating in protests to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline. Wyoming Public Radio’s Melodie Edwards interviewed Wind River Native Advocacy Center Director Jason Baldes two weeks ago about how his organization has sent several groups of people to participate in demonstrations.

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.

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. 

Ortegon

  

This week the University of Wyoming hosted a summer institute for an organization that supports women of color in academia. One of the guest speakers was Sarah Ortegon, artist and former Miss Native American USA. Wyoming Public Radio’s Maggie Mullen spoke with Ortegon about her paintings currently exhibited at the UW Art Museum, partly inspired by her childhood on the Wind River Reservation. Her work will be exhibited until September 2.

nps.gov

Wyoming’s tribes are skeptical of a Native American wildlife group’s plan to expand the range of grizzly bears onto tribal lands throughout the West. Guardians of Our Ancestor’s Legacy or GOAL has proposed putting any grizzlies Wyoming considers over its population limit on reservations.

Jason Baldes is the director of the Wind River Native Advocacy Center and the son of a longtime wildlife manager on the reservation. He says the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes are lucky to have lots of great habitat for grizzly bears.

Melodie Edwards

Out under the cottonwoods in her backyard near Fort Washakie, Eastern Shoshone member Pat Bergie shows off her new raised-bed garden.

“Those are the tomatoes, strawberries,” she says, pointing at the rows of small seedlings. “Over here, I’d done some cabbage inside. I brought them out and planted them and those are what’s gone.”

Gone because birds came and gobbled them up.

“The big ones, the magpies are the ones that went out,” she says, laughing. “They’re the hoggy ones.”

University of Wyoming

  

Earlier this month, the University of Wyoming’s new president Laurie Nichols visited the Wind River Indian Reservation and sat down with business councils from both the Eastern Shoshone and the Northern Arapaho to talk about how to get the Native American student body to better reflect Wyoming’s population of Native Americans overall.

She told Wyoming Public Radio's Melodie Edwards, it’s an issue she’s tackled before in her time as South Dakota State University’s provost.

University of Wyoming

  

The University of Wyoming’s new president, Laurie Nichols, recently met with tribal leaders to talk about recruiting more Native American students to the school. In her previous position as provost at South Dakota State University, Nichols says welcoming Native students was a big priority, and she’d like to do the same at UW.

She says both the Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone business councils explained that their tribal populations are growing, and that means a lot more young people will be reaching college age in the coming years.

Carol S. Bock

A national Native American conservation group says grizzly bears shouldn’t be removed from the Endangered Species List, but instead should expand the bear’s range onto tribal lands.

Ben Nuvamsa is a former Hopi councilman and a spokesman for Guardians of Our Ancestor’s Legacy or GOAL. He said the grizzly plays an intricate role in the belief systems of many tribes.

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.”

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