Savannah Maher

Wind River Reservation Reporter

Email: smaher4@uwyo.edu

Savannah comes to Wyoming Public Media from NPR’s midday show Here & Now, where her work explored everything from Native peoples’ fraught relationship with American elections to the erosion of press freedoms for tribal media outlets. A proud citizen of the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe, she’s excited to get to know the people of the Wind River reservation and dig into the stories that matter to them. 

Savannah got her start in journalism reporting for her hometown’s local newspaper (The Mashpee Enterprise) and public radio station (WCAI), and has since contributed to New Hampshire Public Radio, High Country News, and NPR’s Code Switch blog. She graduated from Dartmouth College in 2018.  

Savannah is supported in part by the Wyoming Cultural Trust Fund, a program of the Department of State Parks and Cultural Resources.

Savannah is a Report For America corps member. 
 

Ways to Connect

Courtesy of One Shot Antelope Hunt


Every September, 24 hunters gather in Lander and compete to see who can down an antelope with a single bullet. The One Shot Antelope Hunt is an 80-year-tradition with a powerful alumni list- past shooters include former Vice President Dick Cheney, Donald Trump Jr., and governors of 31 states. Officially, the men who are invited to participate (women are excluded) come to shoot, hunt, and raise money for wildlife conservation. But they spend a good portion of the weekend playing Indian.

Loring Schaible


It's a bright August morning in the northeast corner of Montana. Robbie Magnan, Game and Fish director for the Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes, rose before dawn to round up 40 buffalo into a corral.

If you're experiencing quarantine fatigue, these bulls can relate.

Dhtrible at the English language Wikipedia via Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license


It's been a month of turmoil for the Jackson Police Department. Two officers resigned in mid-August after a post about a sexual assault investigation on the department's Facebook page drew community outrage.

Just after that, an investigation by the Jackson Hole News and Guide uncovered another incident that raises questions about the culture of the department. Wyoming Public Radio's Savannah Maher spoke with the News and Guide's investigative and justice reporter Emily Mieure about what she found.

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CC0 Public Domain

Listen to the full show here.

Taxes Continue To Be A Hard Sell For Many Lawmakers

This week, Gov. Mark Gordon started addressing Wyoming's $1.5 billion shortfalls with $250 million in budget cuts.

Loring Schaible

 

Sixteen tribal nations in nine U.S. states will receive buffalo from the Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes’ quarantine program. Forty graduates of the program were rounded up in Wolf Point, MT this week and loaded onto livestock trailers in the largest ever tribe-to-tribe transfer of buffalo.

TARYN JIM

This week, a federal cold case task force office opened in Billings to investigate unresolved cases of Missing and Murdered Indigenous people [MMIP]. It’s one of seven established across Indian Country this summer, part of the Trump administration’s multi-agency initiative, called “Operation Lady Justice,” to combat violence against Native people.

Department of the Interior Photographer Tami Heilemann


Across Indian Country, federal cold case task force offices are opening to investigate cases of missing and murdered Indigenous people. They're part of a multi-agency effort established by the Trump administration last year, called Operation Lady Justice. Two Bureau of Indian Affairs special agents will work out of a Billings, Montana based cold case task force office starting this week, serving tribal communities in our region.

Savannah Maher

After four months under a strict stay-at-home order, residents of the Wind River Reservation will now be able to gather in small groups, enter tribal buildings, and return to work at non-essential jobs on the reservation. Tribal offices and businesses, including casinos, hotels and restaurants, will also be permitted to re-open.

Arapahoe School District

 

Hundreds of students on the Wind River Reservation will begin the school year online. This week the Fort Washakie, Wyoming Indian and Arapahoe districts, as well as St. Stephen's Indian School, became the first in the state to officially opt for virtual instruction.

Savannah Maher


This summer, the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers sparked a wave of protests across the country. The first Wyoming community to join that national movement wasn't Laramie or Cheyenne, or even Jackson Hole. It was Riverton.

The Wind River Reservation has been under a strict stay-at-home order since April, requiring non-essential tribal offices and both tribes' casino operations to remain closed to the public. In a Monday morning online address, Northern Arapaho Business Council Chairman Lee Spoonhunter announced plans to begin re-opening.

Courtesy of the Brown-Howell family

 

Update: Mr. Brown's body has been transported from Salt Lake City to Riverton, and the Brown-Howell family has received a loan from the Northern Arapaho Tribe that will cover transportation costs. The family is still accepting donations through its GoFundMe page to cover other funeral expenses.

The extended Brown-Howell family of Riverton lost a loved one to COVID-19 this month. 73-year-old John Nelson Brown II was hospitalized with the illness in Fremont County in June. Due to his age and an underlying health condition, he was life-flighted to the University of Utah Hospital in Salt Lake City for specialized treatment. He died there on July 10, after spending nearly three weeks on a ventilator.

In addition to mourning their father and grandfather, five of Brown's family members have also tested positive for COVID-19 in recent weeks. Some have been hospitalized or quarantined and are unable to work. The family is struggling to afford funeral expenses, and they are asking for the community's help.


Screenshot: https://twitter.com/GovernorGordon/status/1280618114661658629

In recent weeks, new cases of COVID-19 have been on the rise in Wyoming. On Monday, July 6, the state saw its largest single day increase since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic: 37 new confirmed cases.

Savannah Maher

 

Fremont County, which continues to lead the state in confirmed COVID-19 cases, will be without a public health officer until August. Dr. Brian Gee chose to step down from the job after his term ended on Tuesday.

According to County Commission Chairman Travis Becker, the COVID-19 pandemic abruptly turned the public health officer position from a relatively casual role to an 80-hour per week commitment.

An unofficial July Fourth parade organized by Lander residents will go forward with the city's blessing. In an email sent via a community listserv, Lander Senator Cale Case said he and city officials helped the organizers secure a WYDOT permit to shut down Main Street to avoid the "dangers and chaos" of an unsanctioned celebration.

Catherine Wheeler

Buffalo, Wyoming is a small Western town with fewer than 5,000 residents. The historic Occidental Hotel still stands on Main Street. Murals of horses paint the sides of old brick buildings. Buffalo's most widely attended event is a four-day long festival that celebrates a fictional sheriff in town based on Buffalo and Johnson County.

Tennessee Watson

Today's U.S. Supreme Court ruling affirming the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, came as a relief to the more than 600 Wyomingites who have benefitted from the program since it was created in 2012. DACA protects some immigrants, who were brought to the United States as children, from deportation and allows them to obtain driver licenses and work legally.

Wyoming Public Radio's Savannah Maher spoke with two Wyoming DACA recipients, Jose Rivas of Jackson and Ana Castro of Laramie, about how the program has impacted their lives and what today's ruling means for them.


Citizens of the Eastern Shoshone Tribe are eligible for direct COVID-19 relief funds from their tribal government. The money comes from the $10 million fund allocated to the Eastern Shoshone Tribe through the federal government's massive coronavirus stimulus bill known as the CARES Act.

Savannah Maher

It's been three weeks since George Floyd was killed by a Minneapolis police officer who kneeled on his neck for more than eight minutes. Floyd's killing has sparked unrest across America, including in parts of Wyoming that aren't used to seeing protests. From Laramie and Casper to Gillette, Riverton, and even small towns like Dubois and Pinedale, people in our state are speaking out against racism and police violence against Black people. At many of these vigils, marches and demonstrations, Black Wyomingites are leading the way.

 

 

The Northern Arapaho Tribe has laid out its plans for spending $19 million in federal coronavirus relief aid that it received through the CARES Act. On behalf of the Northern Arapaho Business Council, Chairman Lee Spoonhunter said more than $5.2 million of the aid will be disbursed directly to tribal citizens who have taken a financial hit due to the pandemic.

Savannah Maher


More than 100 people gathered at Riverton City Park on Monday night to honor George Floyd, the 46-year-old Black man who died last week after a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for more than eight minutes. Demonstrators chanted "Black Lives Matter" and "Justice for Floyd" along Federal Boulevard before holding a candlelight vigil for Floyd. The event, which was organized by young people from the Wind River Reservation, remained peaceful.

Wyoming Public Radio's Savannah Maher compiled this audio postcard from the vigil, featuring the voices of Black and Indigenous demonstrators.

Savannah Maher

The Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho Business Councils have extended a strict stay-at-home order and nightly 9 p.m. curfew on the Wind River Reservation, measures intended to slow the spread of COVID-19. Tribal members will continue to face tribal court fines and potential jail time for violations at least through the month of June.

After months of refining their business plans, the Wind River Startup Challenge's five finalists pitched a panel of judges on Saturday. Each Native-owned businesses was awarded a portion of the challenge's $25,000 seed fund, but the big winners were a hair salon and a fencing company, which received $10,000 each in debt-free capital.

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