Wind River Reservation

The jail on the Wind River Indian Reservation is being renovated, and while it’s under construction people brought in for minor offenses are let go with a notice to appear in court instead of being held like they normally would be. Minor offenses are mostly alcohol related, like public intoxication, simple assault, trespassing, and disturbing the peace. 

Chief Judge of the Shoshone and Arapaho Tribal Court, John St. Clair, says only about 10% of people who are issued a notice to appear actually appear.

Federal budget cuts are causing schools on the Wind River Indian Reservation to tighten their belts.

Wyoming provides funding to all public schools in the state, but 10 districts – including several on the reservation – also receive money from the federal Impact Aid program.  That supplements funding to school districts that include federal land that is not subject to property taxes.

The EPA issues water discharge permits on the Wind River Indian Reservation to oil and gas companies bringing up water with their oil. 

That water, called produced water, is dirty and often warm even in winter. The permits are issued through an EPA waiver that allows such water to be discharged in the arid West if it’s being used beneficially.  In the drier parts of Wyoming it is sometimes the only source of water for livestock and wildlife.

A new Bureau of Justice Statistics report on tribal crime data says the number of Indian country suspects investigated by U.S. attorneys for violence dropped 3%, while those investigated for property crime increased by 57%.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Kerry Jacobson says her office in Lander is also looking into more non-violent crimes on Wind River Reservation than in the past.

The Wind River Indian Reservation could lose its trash disposal services if the tribes there do not negotiate a new contract with Fremont County before the existing one expires on December 14th.

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.

Wind River Reservation

Tribal leaders are pleased that a sex offender registry and compliance enforcement office has been established on the Wind River Reservation.

The office in Ethete was established under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act – or SORNA – to close reporting gaps among states, territories and Indian Country. Before it opened on August 17, there was no way to force sex offenders living, working or studying on the reservation to make their presence known to the public.

Wind River Reservation

After the US Senate unanimously passed the HEARTH ACT – giving tribes more control over leasing Indian land – President Obama has signed it into law.

The legislation will allow tribal governments to approve surface leases on Indian land directly, instead of waiting for the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs to approve them. Eastern Shoshone Business Council co-chairman Wes Martel says going through the B-I-A could take years.

Supporters of the Violence Against Women Act are hoping the law will be improved with provisions that could have a big impact on the Wind River Reservation. The Act provides grant money to support women who have been victims of domestic violence, including on Reservations.

U.S. Attorney for Wyoming, Kip Crofts, says it would give tribes more power to prosecute domestic violence.

Wyoming’s U.S. Attorney Kip Crofts says an increased presence in law enforcement on the Wind River Reservation is having an effect on high levels of crime there.

Crofts, along with members of the legislature’s Tribal Select and Joint Judiciary Interim Committees, met on Wind River earlier this week to discuss issues related to crime and Crofts says continued federal and state support may be the key to addressing the issue.

The Department of Energy announced Friday that water being provided to residents of the Wind River Reservation is safe to drink.

Last week, DOE officials confirmed that tap water in four households on the reservation showed elevated levels of uranium nearly twice the legal limit.

This week, the DOE’s April Gil said in a statement that the elevated levels were inaccurate, the tap water has been retested, and is safe for consumption.

Last week, the Department of Energy announced that uranium at nearly twice the legal limit had been found in the tap water of four households on the Wind River Reservation. The event marks another incident in a long and troubled history in the area.  Wyoming Public Radio's Tristan Ahtone brings us this report on the find.

With problems over water contamination in the town of Pavillion, and possible actions to remediate a contaminated uranium site on the Wind River Reservation,  tribal officials have pushed to be the lead agency in both situations, as the areas impacted are within the boundaries of the reservation and impact tribal trust assets.

The Wyoming Senate has given initial approval to a Joint Resolution asking Congress to increase funding and monitoring at the Riverton Uranium Mill Tailings remediation site.  Mill Tailings at the site, on the Wind River Reservation, constitute contaminated materials left over from the former Susquehanna-Western uranium mill that operated in the 50’s and 60’s.

Senator Cale Case told the Senate that the federal government had expected the site to naturally clean itself up after the company ceased operation in the area.  However, he says that hasn’t been the case…

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