Tribal News

The Wind River Indian Reservation is as beautiful as its melodic name. It's one of the largest Reservations in the United States, spanning over 2.2 million acres and contained within the boundaries of the state. Its scenery ranges from high grassland to some of the most majestic and least populated mountain ranges. The Wind River Range is a renowned destination for historians, climbers, hikers, and visitors who come to absorb the culture.

Wyoming Public Media serves the Greater Wind River Reservation, Ft. Washakie, Lander, Riverton, Shoshone, Dubois, and Thermopolis on 90.9, 90.5 and 91.3. Our reporters tell the stories of the Reservation, focusing on issues that affect the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho Tribes. We also take stories from our Mountain West Bureau reporters who tell the stories of Native Americans beyond our borders. They reflect the lives of people on the Reservation and beyond, their issues, history, hopes, and ambitions. 

Indian Lands in the United States
Credit Bureau of Indian Affairs

  

This is about two very different visions of how we should use land in the American West.

On the Great Plains of Montana, conservationists and tribes want to rewind the clock and return wild bison to the shortgrass prairie. But cowboys and ranchers say if that happens, their way of life – their very culture – will disappear.

Bethany Yellowtail

March is Women’s History Month. Hunter Old Elk, the curatorial assistant of the Plains Indian Museum at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, recently took a moment at Northwest College to highlight Women Warriors or Indigenous women of the 21st century. Old Elk who herself is of the Crow Nation and Yakama Nation spoke to Wyoming Public Radio’s Kamila Kudelska about how two Crow women have inspired her to promote contemporary native voices. The first: Bethany Yellowtail.

pills
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The opioid crisis has hit Native American communities harder than any other racial group in the country. Overdose deaths in Indian Country are 519 percent of the national average.

Mark Zuckerberg is on the hot seat this week. He’s testifying in front of Congress about Facebook user profiles being mined without permission.  

The data breach prompted a “Delete Facebook” movement that hasn’t really gained any traction.

That’s especially true in the Native American community, where Facebook is much more than sharing cat videos or keeping in touch with friends and family.  

Melodie Edwards

In the early 20th century, tribal members of the Osage Nation in Oklahoma became extremely wealthy after discovering oil underneath their reservation. Then, dozens of Osage members started turning up murdered in a vast conspiracy meant to redirect their wealth into the hands of white men.

In the recent book Killers of the Flower Moon, author David Grann explores this chapter in American history. Grann visited the University of Wyoming as a guest lecturer, and Wyoming Public Radio's Caroline Ballard spoke with him about how he first became interested in the Osage Indian Murders and their legacy. 

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. 

Stephanie Joyce

  

Advocates for the Wind River tribes say they were relieved to hear that Wyoming Governor Matt Mead vetoed a bill that would have given stiff fines and jail time to protesters that blocked access to or damaged infrastructure like oil and gas facilities. 

Northern Arapaho Tribe

The Northern Arapaho Tribe has announced it will no longer use the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program but instead will self-insure tribal employees in hopes of moving toward greater tribal sovereignty. Last year, the tribe took over the management of their health clinics, too.

Bison in Yellowstone
AMY MARTIN

Three people were arrested this week at the Stephen’s Creek facility in Yellowstone National Park.

Early Tuesday morning, park officials found two people trying to chain themselves to a structure where bison are held before they leave the facility. Later in the day, park officials said a third individual was found in a restricted area.

Wyoming State Historical Society

The Wyoming House passed a bill to create a day commemorating Estelle Reel. She was the first woman elected to a statewide office in 1894, as the Superintendent of Public Instruction.  

 

While the majority of lawmakers wanted to recognize Reel’s accomplishment, House Minority Leader Cathy Connolly said Reel’s discriminatory attitude toward Native Americans and women should make them think twice.

 

Connolly said she researched Reel and read multiple articles.

 

Sheridan.edu

Tribal leaders, national policymakers and educators came together last week at Sheridan College to talk about how to decrease racial tensions on their campus. Back in September, racial slurs were written on a whiteboard on the dorm door of two Native American students there, prompting a series of discussions about how to prevent future attacks.

Northern Arapaho Chairman Roy Brown participated in the roundtable and said he commends the college for taking action.

By Terry Tollefsbol, NATIONAL CONSERVATION TRAINING CENTER-PUBLICATIONS AND TRAINING MATERIALS (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service:) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Environmental groups continue to voice alarm after the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission recommended moving forward on a grizzly bear hunting season. At a January meeting, the commissioners instructed the Game and Fish Department to start writing rules for hunting regulations. The first season could open as early as this fall.

Northern Arapaho Tribe

  

The University of Wyoming has seen a serious decline in enrollment of Native American students. The new university president set a goal to reverse that, opening a Native American Center and hired a Native American program advisor to make the campus more welcoming. And those efforts are working. But now there isn’t enough money to fund all the interested students applying.

Northern Arapaho Chairman Roy Brown said part of that is because his tribe is growing quickly: 10,300 members strong. And he said, 40 percent of those members are kids.

Northern Arapaho Tribe

At a University of Wyoming Board of Trustees meeting last week, the chairman of the Northern Arapaho Tribe, Roy Brown, made the case for giving Wyoming’s tribal students a tuition waiver.

He said, thanks to efforts to recruit more Native Americans, the Northern Arapaho Endowment Scholarship was flooded with more qualified applicants than they could serve for the first time in the scholarship's history.

Sydney Pursel

The Ucross Foundation artist residency program in northern Wyoming has announced the winner of its first Native American visual artist fellowship award. Sydney Pursel will spend a month at Ucross, receive a $1,000 stipend and show her work in their gallery.

Pursel is a member of the Iowa Tribe, and said a lot of her early work wrestled with tribal identity.

Bison in Yellowstone
AMY MARTIN

The Yellowstone National Park has initiated a criminal investigation into the release of bison from a quarantine facility. Early Tuesday morning, park officials discovered 52 bison missing. Park officials said the bison were able to leave the containment area through a cut fence, suggesting someone explicitly freed the bison.

 

University of Wyoming

After years of going without one, the University of Wyoming has hired a new Native American Program Advisor. President Laurie Nichols has said the goal is to try to increase the Native student enrollment so that it better reflects the Native population in the state.

Yellowstone National Park Emblem Sticker
National Park Service

A coalition of tribal and conservation groups is asking a judge to restore federal protections for Greater Yellowstone grizzly bears, as it also asks the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), to restore federal protections on their own.

University of Wyoming

At the end of last semester, the University of Wyoming hired Wind River tribal member Reinette Tendore to recruit Native American students and help them feel more welcome on campus.

Kamila Kudelska

In 2006, Montana granted permission to two tribes to hunt on federal public lands near Yellowstone National Park. This was due to a treaty that was agreed upon in 1855 that includes tribes from the Pacific Northwest. The Yakama Nation is the first tribe from Washington state to join in on the hunt. Those tribal members drew tags in November and recently traveled to Yellowstone to exercise their right to hunt buffalo on public land for the first time.

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 Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone Tribes recently held a conference to empower their community to stand up against drugs and alcohol. On November 2, a war staff was passed to the Wyoming tribes of the Wind River Reservation by the Crow Tribe of Montana. The tribes believe with prayer and the creation of the war staff, paired with an event such as a conference, they can help address addiction, safety, and community healing.

Sunny Goggles Director of the White Buffalo Program said further education about drugs and alcohol is important.

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.

Sheridan College

In late September, two Native American women enrolled at Sheridan College were the target of multiple incidents of racist hate speech. Thursday, Sheridan College President Paul Young announced an action plan to address inclusion and safety for all students on campus.

 

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.

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