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


Soon after she was elected as one of America's first Indigenous congresswomen in 2018, New Mexico Rep. Deb Haaland paid a visit to her constituents at the Pueblo of Sandia, just outside of Albuquerque. 

"She came to the Pueblo for one of our feast days," said Stephine Poston, a tribal citizen and advocate for Native women leadership. "And the young girls, a couple of them were following her around and she stopped to talk to them. It was an amazing thing to see and witness." 

Poston said Haaland may as well have been a celebrity to those girls, but she didn't act like one. 

"She's just that person who will stop and see you," Poston said. 

And she said that's how Pueblo people, and Indigenous people across the country, have been feeling since Haaland was nominated to lead the Department of the Interior: Seen.

States across the Mountain West are receiving their first shipments of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. And the Moderna vaccine will be coming once it's granted emergency authorization by the FDA. But as distribution gets underway, other COVID-19 prevention measures including frequent hand-washing, mask-wearing and social distancing will still be necessary. 

Karen Snyder has never been afraid to use her voice. She learned that from the women who raised her on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming.

"I come from a very long line of strong women. Grandmothers, mothers, a very strong line of women that are very outspoken," Snyder said.

That came in handy in 2016, when she was elected as one of two women on the six-person Eastern Shoshone Business Council.

In April, Google and Apple launched software that state health authorities can use to build COVID-19 contact tracing apps. But fewer than half of U.S. states have taken advantage, and most people living in those states aren't putting the apps to use.

In the Mountain West, Colorado's Exposure Notifications app has had the most success, with about 20% of the state's population having downloaded it. But fewer than 3% of Wyoming and Nevada residents have downloaded their states' smartphone apps.

Lynnette Grey Bull for Congress

 

A record 14 Indigenous people ran for Congress this year from both parties, including six candidates in the Mountain West. Most of them were not successful. But Aliyah Chavez, a reporter and producer for Indian Country Today, says their campaigns still had an impact. She spoke with Wyoming Public Radio's Savannah Maher about the outcomes of those races, the six Native people who will serve in Congress in the upcoming session, and whether they will be able to work across the aisle for Indian Country.


Savannah Maher

Chairman Lee Spoonhunter of the Northern Arapaho Business Council has tested positive for COVID-19. According to a statement released Monday afternoon, Spoonhunter is experiencing mild symptoms and self-isolating under the supervision of the Northern Arapaho Tribe's clinic, Wind River Family and Community Healthcare.

CREDIT WYOFILE/FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS

As COVID-19 cases continue to surge in our state, thousands of Wyomingites will be sick with the coronavirus or under quarantine orders on Election Day. That doesn't mean that they can't cast a ballot.

About a week before Election Day, as the Wind River Reservation was bracing for snow, Wyoming State Rep. Andi Clifford squeezed in some roadside campaigning outside of a community hall in Arapahoe.

"Normally we would've been inside," she said. "But we can't, so we're out here."

The reservation's public health orders prohibit large, indoor gatherings. So as Clifford seeks a second term representing Wind River, she and her team have been spending a lot of time outside in the cold.

Talia Mayden of HUMAN

About a week before Election Day, as the Wind River Reservation was bracing for snow, Wyoming state Rep. Andi Clifford squeezed in some roadside campaigning outside of a community hall in Arapahoe.

"Normally we would've been inside," she said. "But we can't, so we're out here."

Last weekend, as the Wind River Reservation was bracing for snow, Wyoming State Rep. Andi Clifford was squeezing in some campaigning in the parking lot of Great Plains Hall in Arapahoe. 

Savannah Maher

 

The Northern Arapaho Tribe has plans to launch a sports betting operation on the Wind River Reservation in the coming months. Tribal leaders hope the addition will help the tribe's three casinos recover from months of closure and revenue loss amidst the pandemic.

Savannah Maher

 

After getting an initial COVID-19 outbreak under control, tribal leaders on the Wind River Reservation are reporting a renewed wave of community spread. During a virtual address this week, Northern Arapaho Business Council Chairman Lee Spoonhunter called on community members not to allow "coronavirus fatigue" to influence their behavior.

Graphic by Michael Patti, Texas Observer

This article was reported in collaboration with The Texas Observer and created in partnership with the Economic Hardship Reporting Project.

It's a modest museum on the edge of a modest town. The Lander Pioneer Museum is dimly lit, a nod to its log cabin beginnings, and its mismatched display cases house everything from antique saddles to applesauce mills-artifacts of early settlers in what is now Lander, Wyoming. In the main gallery, a placard announces the institution's major show, "Tribal Warrior Art." The exhibition, which debuted in fall of 2018, contains about 100 ledger art drawings- narrative illustrations created by Indigenous artists from the Plains on discarded account books, mostly during the late 19th century.

Savannah Maher


Growing up, Lavina Antelope and her little brother Andy were close. She calls him the baby of the family, even though he wasn't the youngest of his nine siblings. She says he was funny and tenderhearted. In his final years, he struggled with severe and chronic alcoholism. Lavina Antelope worried that her brother's addiction would kill him. She never imagined she would lose him to police violence.

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.

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